ICC Champions Trophy 2017: Sarfraz Ahmed credits loss against India for Pakistan's turnaround
Captain Sarfraz Ahmed on Wednesday said the heavy defeat against India in their opening match motivated Pakistan's massive turnaround as his team decimated hosts and pre-tournament favourites England to enter their maiden Champions Trophy final. Sarfraz also credited the support staff for keeping the team in good spirits after the India loss. An unfancied Pakistan side thrashed England by 8 wickets in the first semi-final at Sophia Gardens on Wednesday to make it to the final which will be played at The Oval on Sunday.
Openers Azhar Ali (76) and Fakhar Zaman (57) made it a comfortable chase from the start as Pakistan reached 215/2 in 37.1 overs in reply to England's unimpressive 211 all out - from 128/2 - with one ball left. It was an unexpectedly one-sided semifinal as two-time finalist England continue their quest for a global 50-over title in any tournament.
"Credit goes to the bowlers. We really bowled well. Mohammad Amir did not play but Rumman Raees came and bowled really well," said Sarfraz after Pakistan's stunning win.
What led to the turnaround after the India game?
"After India, every game was a knockout game, I said to the players to just play your game. The team management also kept motivating us," he said.
Asked about a possible re-match in the final on Sunday, Sarfraz said: "Both teams (India and Bangladesh) are playing well, so we will play whoever gets through."
He was all praise for pacer Hasan Ali, who took a three wicket haul for the third time in a row.
"He's very impressive, hopefully he will do that in the final;. Whenever he comes on he's getting wickets."
Meanwhile, England captain Eoin Morgan said his team did not simply adapt to the conditions.
"We did not adapt to conditions. Pakistan outplayed us. It was a used pitch but you should be able to play on all kinds of surface at this level. Pakistan did that well and played better. We did prepare, Pakistan bowled well but we didn't adjust and 200 isn't competitive, 250-270 would be a good score," said Morgan.
Whether used pitch was a factor in the unexpected loss, Morgan said: "It's a test... There wasn't too much wrong. We bowled okay but 200 was well under par.
"We continue to learn, everything we did was calculated, but Pakistan had played on the wicket previously and that helped. You have to adapt in knockout cricket, so it's an important lesson."
(With PTI inputs)