ADELAIDE: In-form opener Sarfraz Ahmed believes the pressure of expectation will be on Australia when the co-hosts take on Pakistan in a highly-charged World Cup quarter-final, vowing an attacking approach from his team.
The 27-year-old wicketkeeper/batsman hit his team’s first hundred of the World Cup which helped Pakistan beat Ireland in Sunday’s last Pool B match to earn them a place in the last-eight.
Sarfraz said Australia will be under huge pressure on Friday because of their status as title favourites and due to the attention on them playing at home.
“I think the pressure is on them so we will try to attack them and play positive cricket,” said Sarfraz on Tuesday.
“We have always had tough contests with Australia. Against them in the United Arab Emirates, we beat them in a competitive Test series,” added Sarfraz, of Pakistan’s 2-0 win last October — their first over the Australians in 20 years.
Pakistan are sweating over the fitness of key paceman Mohammad Irfan who didn’t bowl in Tuesday’s training session and will have a scan on his hip injury later in the day.
Sarfraz admitted the Australian bowling attack — comprising left-arm pacers led by leading wicket-taker Mitchell Starc — will be challenging.
“We also have three left-arm fast bowlers so we are preparing with their help. I think our preparation against their left armers will be good as we have three days to do that. We know they have a very good bowling attack.
“I have played Starc before in the UAE so we will see the footage and prepare well for Friday. The target is to give Pakistan a good start and get a win,” said Sarfraz who played as an opener in the three-match one-day series against Australia last October.
He scored 34, 65 and 32 in a 3-0 defeat but admits the Adelaide Oval conditions will not necessarily just only favour Australia.
“The pressure of the different conditions is always there and from their home crowds but I remember that Imran (Khan, the 1992 World Cup winning captain) said that the Adelaide pitch is also good for Pakistan.”
Sarfraz also admitted that expectations on Pakistan have risen back home after four consecutive wins at the World Cup.
“I know the expectations rise after doing well but a quarter-final brings more pressure so it will be important not to succumb to that pressure,” he added.
“I open the innings with (Ahmed) Shehzad so the pressure is giving a good start to the team so that the later batsmen capitalise on that start. After scoring that hundred my confidence has also risen and I am feeling well.
“My performance in the last two matches was good and it helped the team win but we are not thinking too far ahead (winning the Cup). The boys are working really hard and I will try to keep my form, utilise that and give a good start because a good start will be important.”
Sarfraz also scored run-a-ball 49 in the 29-run victory over South Africa in Auckland, the win that helped put Pakistan on course for the quarter-finals.