Sports: Cricket: Matches against WI, India would be a real Test: Sarfraz

Karachi: Former Test pacer Sarfraz Nawaz Tuesday said that although a win against South Africa in a warm-up match doesn’t predict anything, but Pakistan’s real test in Champions Trophy would be their matches against West Indies and India.

“Champions Trophy matches would be tougher. The first match Pakistan would play against West Indies, whose players have been performing well in IPL. It would be a tougher test for Pakistan than a warm-up win against South Africa,” Sarfraz said.

Pakistan is scheduled to face West Indies at The Oval on June 7 in its Champions Trophy opener. Pakistan would then face South Africa at Birmingham on June 10 and India on June 16, also at Birmingham.

He said that Pakistan would have a better chance against South Africa as the team would be coming without its star opener Graeme Smith.

“However, I don’t think the warm-up match against South Africa predicts anything as the Protease would now come with seriousness. The advantage Pakistan would have against South Africa is that the team would be playing without Graeme Smith,” he said.

“The top order of South Africa is not that strong as Smith would not be there so I think Pakistan would have a better chance,” he added.

“However, I would tell the players that South Africa could not be taken lightly. Beating them in a warm-up match predicts nothing and certainly South Africa would come with a different frame of mind in a Champions Trophy match,” he reiterated.

He further said that Pakistan would then face a tough challenge when the team would face archrival India.

“It would be a tough encounter for Pakistan and I think the team who would bat well will win the match,” he said.

He added that the pitches in England would favour pacers as in June the pitches were still a bit damp. “The pitch would start getting dry as tournament progresses. So the spinners would start getting a bit of spin as the pitches would start getting dry,” Sarfraz said.

Meanwhile, former Pakistan coach Mohsin Khan, who has also served as chief selector in the past, said that Pakistan should play each game in the high voltage Champions Trophy with the same aggression which they demonstrate against archrival India.

“Its professional cricket now and the team must put its best in each match,” Mohsin said.

“Although the matches against other teams cannot replicate the same aura which Pakistan and India clash has, however, I think the players should put the same efforts and the same aggression against other teams, which they display against India,” he said.