ICC Champions Trophy 2017: Sarfraz Ahmed credits 'home' crowd for inspiring victory against Proteas

AFP, Jun, 08 2017

Birmingham: Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed said playing in front of a 'home' crowd had helped inspire his side to a shocking 19-run win over South Africa in the Champions Trophy at Edgbaston on Wednesday.

Pakistan went from being zeroes to heroes in three days, bouncing back from a 124-run loss to arch-rivals India to toppling the World's No 1 ODI side.

Pakistan fans dominated a crowd of more than 16,000, giving it the air of a home game for Sarfraz's men in Birmingham, a city with one of the largest Asian populations in Britain.

File image of Pakistan cricket captain Sarfraz Ahmed. Twitter @icc

File image of Sarfraz Ahmed. Twitter @icc

"That is a feeling we miss, not playing in Pakistan," said Sarfraz.

"Maybe that was a difference, the crowd was supporting us and that's why the players were boosted."

Pakistan have had to play most of their matches overseas since the 2009 terror attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore.

However, chants of "Pakistan Zindabad!" ("Long live Pakistan!") rang round Edgbaston which was turned into a sea of green.

Sarfraz's side gave their fans reason to cheer when spinners Imad Wasim and Mohammad Hafeez took three early wickets before speedster Hasan Ali removed a trio of middle-order batsmen.

Pakistan kept the Proteas to a modest 219 for eight in their 50 overs, having conceded exactly 100 more against title-holders India.

"I think the difference was our bowling and fielding," said wicketkeeper-captain Sarfraz Ahmed.

"Mohammad Hafeez and Imad Wasim bowled really well and they took the pressure off for us," he said.

"We had a good bowling meeting (on Tuesday)," added Sarfraz, who saw his attack rebound after India struck 72 from the final four overs of their innings on Sunday.

"We took wickets. If you take wickets, every good team feels under pressure."

Pakistan also improved with the bat after slumping to 164 all out against India. Debutant Fakhar Zaman helped get their chase off to a brisk start.

They lost two wickets but Babar Azam (31 not out) and Shoaib Malik (16 not out) took Pakistan to 119 for three off 27 overs, enough for victory by 19 runs under the Duckworth-Lewis method when rain ended the match.

Sarfraz praised the way backroom staff led by South African coach Mickey Arthur had helped restore the side's self-belief.

"They backed us after the defeat, they supported us very well, so that's why we played a good game."

A feature of Pakistan's performance against the Proteas was their vastly improved fielding, after a shambolic display against India.

Sarfraz drew laughter from reporters when he admitted the improvement couldn't be down to practice.

"I think actually we do no fielding at all," he said. "We had rain the other day, so actually we do nothing."

The result throws Group B wide open and gives Pakistan a chance of qualifying for the semi-finals when they face Sri Lanka in their final match on Monday.

Published Date: Jun 08, 2017 | Updated Date: Jun 08, 2017

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 4493 125
2 South Africa 3395 110
3 England 4097 105
4 Australia 3087 100
5 New Zealand 3114 97
Rank Team Points Rating
1 South Africa 5957 119
2 Australia 5505 117
3 India 4579 114
4 England 5645 113
5 New Zealand 5123 111
Rank Team Points Rating
1 New Zealand 1625 125
2 England 1962 123
3 Pakistan 2417 121
4 West Indies 2222 117
5 India 2183 115