Big honour to play this historic Test match: Sarfraz Ahmed

Ahead of the historic Test between Ireland and Pakistan, Sarfraz Ahmed, the visitors’ skipper, felt honoured to be a part of the momentous occasion. Pakistan’s skipper not just went on to extend his wishes, but also reflected on the significance that the move will have on future generations.
“I think it is a great achievement for Ireland Cricket and Ireland Cricket Board that they will be playing international cricket,” he said on the eve of the Test on Thursday (May 10). “First of all, congrats from my side and on behalf of Pakistan team as well. From here on more people will pick up the game and more kids will play the game as well. It is a big honour for me and my team to play this historic Test match. The first Test for Ireland. Every one will definitely watch this game. We are ready to play this great match.”
The diminutive skipper gave away the starting XI even, saying that they will go in with the same team that played the last practice game against Northamptonshire. After a rain marred game against Kent ended in a draw, Pakistan trounced Northamptonshire by nine wickets in their second and last practice game. Although he would have liked some more practice time, he said his team has acclimatised well to the conditions and that none are complaining for the lack of practice.
“We try our level best to play as many practice games. We played two games, but in different weather. First game against Kent was too cold and the next one against the Northampton was too hot. So it is very difficult at times. When we came here, the first two days were very cold. But today it is bright and shinny. We had decent practice in the last game. No can complain. The batters did well and the bowlers bowled well. We are ready to play Test cricket,” he said.
The forecast for the Test match though, is under heavy weather. The first three days of the game are expected to witness rain breaks with almost 80 per cent chances of rain predicted. Sarfraz though, was optimistic that they should get a good game of cricket. “The weather is not in our hands. It is very difficult to predict whether we will lose 2 days or 3 days. It would be bad for both the teams if there are rains. So, we would be hopeful that we can play well for four or five days.”
While quizzed about the combination and the playing XI, Sarfraz was very candid in his response and also explained why Imam ul Haq will be preferred over Sami Aslam as an opener. Sami Aslam played in the game against Kent and missed out by scoring only 13. Pakistan were bowled out for 168 but Imam stole the show with a gritty 61 batting at No.3. He bolstered his chances by getting another fifty in the second innings against Northamptonshire.
“Both Sami Aslam and Imam played against Kent in the first practice game. We thought who is playing better now should get a chance. The entire team management thought Imam is playing better and he also got two fifties in the practice games as well. That is why we will go with Imam.”
Though Pakistan have already sorted out their playing XI, Sarfraz did not shy from ruing Yasir Shah’s absence. However, he also backed Shadab Khan and hoped that the young leggie will try to deliver the goods in the absence of Yasir, who had a good outing in the lead-up to the Test match as he scalped a 10-fer against Northamptonshire after struggling a bit against Kent.
“Yasir Shah is a very experienced bowler. We all will miss him. But the good thing is that Shadab Khan is bowling well and in the two practice.