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After ICC Champions Trophy win, Sarfraz Ahmed urges India to play cricket in Pakistan

Pakistan used their ICC Champions Trophy win to invite world’s top teams to come play cricket in their homeland

icc champions trophy 2017 Updated: Jun 19, 2017 08:43 IST
Soumitra Bose
Soumitra Bose
Hindustan Times, London
ICC Champions Trophy,Champions Trophy 2017,India vs Pakistan
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed poses with the ICC Champions Trophy after beating India in the final in London on Sunday.(Reuters)

Pakistan used their maiden ICC Champions Trophy win to make a politically sensitive statement on Sunday. Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, in his opening address to the media, said the win will boost Pakistan cricket and “hopefully all nations will now come to Pakistan.” He added: “It is sad that we have not been playing at home for eight years.”

All top nations refuse to play in Pakistan where security is at a premium. Pakistan play their ‘home’ matches in UAE and Sunday’s 180-run win against defending champions India was a perfect platform to send a strong message to the government in New Delhi.

READ | Pakistan consign India to horror defeat in Champions Trophy final

Successive Indian governments have refused to play bilateral cricket with Pakistan and it is unlikely that the result of the 2017 Champions Trophy will change the views of the Narendra Modi government.

Pakistan, however, were on top of the world after their victory. They came into the tournament as the lowest ranked team and after suffering a 124-run loss in a group match against India at Edgbaston on June 4, seemed to have lost steam.

“Not really, I told the boys that there was lot of cricket remaining to be played. Thanks to the coaching staff, it was possible to stage this turnaround and win the trophy.

“Hopefully everyone will remember this win, not today, not tomorrow, (but for a ) very long, long time,” said Sarfraz.

Losing the toss was good for us, said Sarfraz. “We would have loved to bowl first but I also thought that if we can score 280, it will put pressure on the opposition.,” he said.

READ | India vs Pakistan, ICC Champions Trophy 2017 final, highlights: PAK thrash IND by 180 runs, clinch maiden title

The skipper was all praise for Fakhar Zaman, who timed his maiden ODI century to perfection.

“I told him to play his natural game, just the way he would in domestic cricket. He hit the ball really well and turned the tables on the Indian bowlers. At the end of it, it was a complete team effort,” said Sarfraz.

For Pakistan’s head coach Mickey Arthur, the win came as big relief. One of the top coaches in the world, Arthur has never won an IC C trophy and Sunday ended that jinx.

READ | VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: India vs Pakistan, ICC Champions Trophy final - best moments

“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 year. So that’s what it should be about.

“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,” said Arthur.

First Published: Jun 19, 2017 00:34 IST