Sarfraz Ahmed made a big statement ahead of the India vs Pakistan clash in ICC Champions Trophy 2017 on June 4. He seems to have done his homework with coach Mickey Arthur and players. He sure knows how to play the ‘war of the words’ and not show that the team is under pressure ahead of their first clash. As far as pressure is concerned, Sarfraz said, “The pressure will be on India only, we are not under pressure because we are on No.8 (ICC ODI Rankings) and we can’t do worse than that. We will try to play freely. If we win from here then our rankings will go up, it is a possibility that their ranking might go down if we win.”

He did not seem to be troubled out of most of his players playing the Champions Trophy for the first time. There was a debate during 2015 that Pakistan team does not think out of the box, is there anything the young lads are trying to do end the dry spell of Pakistan against India in ICC events. On this Sarfraz replied, “We have made plans and you might witness a few new things that we would be doing that have not been done against India. We would try to do a few ‘out of the box’ things against India, you might see a whole new team’s approach altogether.”

On being asked whether there have been a few new plans in place for Indian’s batsmen-heavy lineup, he replied, “We have made a few plans, we have seen a list of videos, clips of their players. There is no doubt about their batting order being strong on paper but we have the bowlers as Mickey told you that we have the variety with us including left-arm pacer, left arm quick to get through the middle overs, we have Hasan Ali. We will try to choose the best available option in the game and get Indian batsman out.”

He talked about the build up of the game, he said”India-Pakistan has always been tough a match, there are things going around in the media. I feel that these things have an impact on the players but we have talked about it to the players that you don’t need to think about it because it has always been there. Every time there has been an India-Pakistan clash, the hype would be created by media. There will be shows where our players will say things to them and vice versa. We have told our players to focus on cricket and their performance as heroes are made out of the India-Pakistan game,” he added.

On being asked whether the comments of players like Shahid Afridi saying India are a better team on the paper play on the back of their mind creating pressure in the dressing room. Sarfraz replied modestly, “Everyone is entitled to their opinion, Shahid bhai‘s statement is justified that India are a strong side on the paper but things have changed nowadays. Whichever team plays well on the ground on the match day similar to what New Zealand did to Australia yesterday.”

Sarfraz also opened up on the importance of skipper Virat Kohli’s wicket and the improved Indian bowling lineup, he said, “There is no doubt about the importance of Kohli’s wicket because he is the captain and the main player. We will try to get him out early so that India get on the back foot. As far as India’s pace bowling is concerned, their players Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah have been playing regularly. Their bowling attack is good but we have prepared well, it has been 12 days since we have come here (England & Wales). We will try to execute the practice we have done here.”

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