The Telegraph
Monday , June 19 , 2017

A win everyone will remember: Sarfraz

Mohammed Aamir celebrates with teammates after dismissing Shikhar Dhawan at The Oval on Sunday. (Getty Images)

London/Calcutta: Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed hopes that everyone will remember their Sunday's win for a "very long, long time".

Pakistan made a mockery of tournament favourites and defending champions India in the Champions Trophy final at The Oval on Sunday. The 180-run victory over a side that is known for its batting might stunned the cricketing world.

Speaking at the post-match media conference, Sarfraz said: "I think things were great for me, my team and my country. Hopefully, everyone will remember this win, not today, not tomorrow, but for a very long, long time.

"Credit goes to the team management... They worked really hard after the defeat in the first match. They motivated us... The boys are learning very well and they have worked hard. When we arrived here, we were No. 8 team in the world... And now we are the champions!

"Hopefully, this win will boost Pakistan cricket and all teams will come to Pakistan to play," Sarfraz added.

Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur, who has managed teams like Australia and South Africa, was asked if this was his biggest achievement as a coach. Arthur replied: "Yeah... But look, it's not about me and my career, it's about 15 unbelievable players in that dressing room who have been absolutely fantastic for the last one year. So that's what it should be about."

But then he added: "I've had - I was telling somebody the other day - that I've had five semi-finals with South Africa and never got to a final.

"I got to one final with Pakistan and eventually got a medal. So that's fantastic. But the credit goes to the players. They've been brilliant, and my fellow coaching staff and management team have been fantastic as well."

The tournament has seen Pakistan stage an amazing turnaround - from suffering an embarrassing loss against India in the first match to inflicting a ruthless defeat on the same opponents in the final. Arthur thinks that the turnaround has been "surreal".

"Oh, it sort of feels surreal really, to be honest. But the thing about that loss (first match), we knew that was an aberration. We had prepared really well. We knew the calibre of the players we had.

"We knew what their abilities were, and that certainly wasn't what we had trained for, we didn't play anywhere near to our ability. So we just had to keep believing, keep trusting the techniques, keep trusting the game plan.

"I'm incredibly proud of our dressing room. They kept on believing, they kept on trusting their roles, they kept on trusting the game plan.

"That was the most important thing. The younger players that have come into the set-up have been fantastic, and they've played brand of cricket that we want to play. So it's been great."

Asked what special did they do to turn around things, the coach said: "To be honest not a hell of a lot. We had some good, hard conversations, but we didn't train any more... Because we knew the base had been done. All that had been put in place.

"If we had tried to train any more, it would have seemed we were panicking, and that's the last thing you want to do in those situations."

Arthur explained that it was all about having trust in the players.

"We trusted the players... We trusted what we had put in place... We had some good, honest conversations.

"We had some conversations about stepping up, had conversation about standing up to our position.

"And the players almost drove that conversation, which for us was very new, but also showed their maturity... The way they turned it around was unbelievable."

Left-arm pacer Mohammed Aamir bowled a terrific opening spell, picking up three key Indian wickets. Aamir had missed the semi-final win against England. About Aamir, whose career has seen dramatic ups and downs, Arthur said: "Well, we spoke about it in the team meeting.

"We thought that if we could get amongst the Indian top order early, we could probably expose the middle order that hadn't batted a fair amount, and Aamir was the guy who could do that for us.

"In the first two games, he didn't get a wicket, but he had bowled particularly well. We were always thinking it was one spell in somewhere, and thankfully, that spell came today. We put India on the back foot and that certainly gave us the upper hand."

"This performance says a lot about his personality. I think we've been through all that before. But what I do know is that Aamir is a big-match player.

"I do know that when the game is on the line and the bigger the game, the more he performs, the more pumped up he gets, so he doesn't shy away from pressure situations. He doesn't shy away from big games.

"He's got proper big match temperament and he showed that today on the biggest stage."

Arthur hopes that this win be a boost for Pakistan cricket. "I think it'll be massive... I really do. I'm sure that the nation of Pakistan is really happy because they deserve it.

"For what they've been through... the players not playing at home, the fans not identifying with heroes because they just don't see international cricket... That's massive for the country. So let's hope that this really kick-starts that momentum in Pakistan again," Arthur said.

With Sarfraz being optimistic that other top cricket playing nations would start visiting Pakistan again, Arthur was asked if he felt the same.

"We hope so... We're scheduled to have a World XI in Pakistan in September for three Twenty20 games. So hopefully that starts paving the way for future tours. We can only hope," Arthur said.

 More stories in Sports

  • Not the best of nights at team hotel
  • Dennis Amiss: Greats put a heavy price on their wicket
  • Got the start we needed: Aamir
  • We leave with our heads held high: Virat
  • This week in sport
  • Srikanth clinches title in style
  • Warner wants Steve Smith to push players’ case a bit more
  • Zaman & Aamir win day for underdogs Pakistan
  • Imran praises Sarfraz & Co.
  • The final statistics
  • Late goal earns Mexico a point
  • India maul Pakistan 7-1
  • A victory & black armbands
  • Harman moves into lead