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No More Yawning For Sarfaraz

BIRMINGHAM: Sarfaraz Ahmed is a survivor. And despite all his belly fat that makes him fair game for criticism after every Pakistani defeat, he is still a good wicketkeeper.

The Pakistan captain demonstrated his survival skills by leading his embattled team to a 49-run victory in a must-win World Cup game against South Africa at Lord’s on Sunday.

Then on Wednesday here at Edgbaston, Sarfaraz showed that despite his daddy belly he has the ability to catch blinders behind the wicket. He exhibited it during yet another must-win match, this time against New Zealand, by helping getting rid of seasoned Black Caps’ batsman Ross Taylor.

It was a crucial phase of the New Zealand innings with Taylor and in-form captain Kane Williamson trying to rebuild the innings after pacers Mohammad Amir and Shaheen Shah Afridi had removed both the openers.

Williamson and Taylor are two most prolific New Zealand batsman in this World Cup and had put on 573 runs together in the event before Wednesday’s game.

Taylor is the same man who single-handedly shepherded New Zealand to a stunning win against Pakistan at Pallekele back in the 2011 World Cup.

Together with Williamson, he was the biggest threat for Pakistan in their battle for World Cup survival.

Though it was Shaheen who took the key wicket of Taylor, Sarfaraz played a key role in it. Batting on 3, Taylor was unable to cope with some extra lift extracted off the wicket by Shaheen and edged it towards first slip but Sarfaraz, despite all his body fat, made a stunning dive to his right and caught it one-handed.

The Edgbaston stands, almost completely filled by Pakistani supporters, erupted with joy. The reaction was in stark contrast to the fans’ response after Pakistan’s embarrassing defeat against India at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Then, Sarfaraz and his team were assailed for their timid showing against India. The captain was at the centre of criticism and had to even cope with abusive fans in person. While Sarfaraz was at a mall with his two-year-old son, a young fan misbehaved with him. A day later, the video of the incident went viral.

In an interview ahead of the game against New Zealand, Sarfaraz spoke about the incident and thanked fans for supporting him through hard times.

“This was playing on my mind, but I didn’t pay much heed as I thought that I won’t respond as his family was also with him. I spoke to his family. One of his family members also apologized on his behalf."

“But when the video became viral my body language was demotivated. It was not because of me. It was because of my son Abdullah who was with me at that time. That’s why it hurt me even more,” he remarked.

“I was very angry at that moment, but if I had gotten into an argument people would not have seen the truth and I would’ve been seen in a negative light instead. That’s why I felt not reacting to the incident was the best response as I left it to God."

Sarfaraz also said that he had to console his wife after the video of the incident went viral.

“When the video came my wife started crying. I tried to console her. I told her to be brave.”

Sarfaraz said that emotional Pakistan fans are justified in their disappointment when the team performs badly.

“We are what we are because you love us,” he told the fans. “When we win the fans appreciate us. When we lose their disappointment is justified."

“The fans love us. They give us courage when we play abroad. In England, the fans’ support is tremendous.”

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