Sarfraz Ahmed vows new start for Pakistan


KARACHI: Pakistan’s fast-rising wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed vowed to take the new-look side to the next level after his elevation to the one-day and Twenty20 vice-captaincy.

Under new one-day captain Azhar Ali, Pakistan are hoping for a fresh start when they start their Bangladesh tour next week following the retirement of stalwarts Misbah-ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi from 50-over cricket.

“I take my appointment as vice-captain as a good opportunity and an honour,” Ahmed told reporters during training in Lahore. “Azhar is a good friend of mine and together we will take the team forward.”

Ahmed was one of Pakistan’s key performers during their World Cup campaign, hitting an attractive 49 and equalling the one-day world record of six catches behind the stumps against South Africa in Auckland.

The 27-year-old then smashed Pakistan’s only World Cup hundred — against Ireland — to help them through to the quarter-finals, where they lost to eventual champions Australia.

Ahmed was surprisingly not played in the first four matches — a ploy widely criticised in Pakistani media.

Misbah and Afridi, who between them clocked up 560 ODIs, retired from the format after the World Cup, but Ahmed backed younger players to take their place.

“They were the backbones of the team but I am sure the players who replace them will do their best to fill their places,” said Ahmed.

Ahmed also said that Bangladesh will not be taken lightly.

“Bangladesh has been performing well,” said Ahmed of the opponents who shocked the higher ranked England to reach the quarter-final where they lost to India.

“They always play well at home so we will not take them lightly and give our best performance,” said Ahmed.

Pakistan will fly out on April 13 and play the first of three one-dayers in Dhaka on April 17. They also face Bangladesh in a Twenty20 and two Tests. -AFP