Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed hits out at own players

Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed hits out at own players

HARARE - Pakistan s captain called for improvement even as his team beat Zimbabwe by seven wickets to enter the final of the T20I tri-series.

Zimbabwe were knocked out of the T20I ti-series on Wednesday after losing to Pakistan by seven wickets in Harare. This victory set up Pakistan’s clash in the final with Australia, who have already won both their games so far and will meet Pakistan for an inconsequential league game on Thursday.

Even as Solomon Mire notched up the highest individual score by a Zimbabwe batsman in T20I cricket by hitting a 63-ball 94, his team could only manage 162/4 in their 20 overs, a total that was scaled comfortably by Pakistan, who were helped by 40s from Fakhar Zaman (47) and Hussain Talat (44), and an unbeaten 38 by captain Sarfraz Ahmed .

Ahmed, who hit the winning runs for the team, was not happy, however, with the team’s bowling performance. Although Pakistan managed to restrict Zimbabwe to 162 after giving away 24 runs in the first three and 46 runs in the first six overs, Mire, helped by Cephas Zhuwao (24) and Tarisai Musakanda (33), hit the Pakistani bowlers for 13 fours and 7 sixes.

“I am not happy with the way my bowlers were bowling. It was not up to the mark. When our bowling was finished [with] 160 [it] looked like a good batting track,” Sarfraz said.

The captain also urged the batsmen to finish games after getting good starts and helping themselves to 40s and 50s. “Our start was very good, two batsmen got into the 40s but did not finish the game. We have to tell them that if you score 40-50, then you have to finish the game. Big game tomorrow (against Australia) as we would try to take the winning momentum into the finals,” he said.

Mire, who picked up a wicket as well in addition to his record-breaking knock, was happy the plans came off while Zimbabwe were batting. “It was a good day. The game plan was, as we had discussed in the last few games, to have one of the top three-four guys to stay on till the end and kick on to get a big score,” Mire said.

“I had an operation straight after after the [World Cup] qualifiers and have been struggling for seven or eight months. I am trying to bowl much more now and it felt much better today.”

The opening batsman felt that Zimbabwe had a competitive total on the board but some ordinary bowling and slip-ups in the field cost them the game. “I think the total was competitive. It always hurts in the end if you have a couple of misields or a couple of bad balls. It becomes a different chase."

Zimbabwe captain Hamilton Masakadza lauded his team for bouncing back from the 100-run battering at the hands of Australia – where Aaron Finch smashed a world-record 172 – but conceded that the team didn’t perform well under pressure by giving away easy runs.

“Definitely much better from the boys as they put up a much better fight,” Masakadza said.

“They bowled well at the death and [but] we ended 10 or 15 runs short. It adds up with maybe 10 or 15 we gave in the field as well.

“The guys did not operate well under pressure, there were few too many mistakes. It [fielding] is one of our best suits so hopefully we can get it together in the next game.”