Sleepless Sarfraz feels the heat after Asia Cup exit

Sarfraz Ahmed returns after another flop with the bat © Getty Images

Pressures from the captaincy of Pakistan are beginning to affect Sarfraz Ahmed. A disappointing Asian Cup campaign ended on Wednesday night in Abu Dhabi with a defeat to Bangladesh, which led to Sarfraz exhausted and overworked to admit nights of insomnia during the tournament.

In addition, an incessant workload in the last four years has provoked a discussion between the management and the selectors about the possibility of supporting it at some point during the next season.

Pakistan won only two games in the tournament, were beaten twice by India and decisively beat Bangladesh in the Super Four stage. Sarfraz's performance with the bat was a continuation of the uneven form of the last two years.

Since the mark of his ODI batting in the summer of 2016 in England, he has declined and is now in a bona fide depression: since his fifty-win match against Sri Lanka in the Champions Trophy, he has averaged 17.2 with the bat. His position in the order is not resolved: that summer in England he hit for n. ° 5, a position he has hit only once since then. In the Asian Cup, he batted for numbers 4, 5 and 6.

His captaincy, in some selections and in the field, has suffered and although his gauntlet was mostly orderly, it has been affected in the past.

"Look, the pressures of the captaincy are always there," he admitted after the defeat of Pakistan on Wednesday night, in what was, unusually, to him, irritable press conference. "The Pakistani captains, whoever they are, always have pressure, obviously, when you're not acting and the team is losing, then there's more pressure.

"The truth is that if I say I have not slept for the last six nights, nobody will believe me, but … this is part of life and it will continue, I will say again that we do not need to press the panic button button. "

The results, and probably the workload of Sarfraz, have undoubtedly contributed to insomnia. Since September 2014, when it was becoming a permanent fixture in all three formats, only Joe Root and Virat Kohli have played more international games than him. Only one series was missed, the ODIs in Australia in early 2017, at that time and also because their mother was sick.

Since becoming a captain, Pakistan has also not chosen a replacement wicketkeeper in their squads, which means that Sarfraz has had to play until the warm-up matches. That can now change. ESPNcricinfo understands that Sarfraz could rest at some point during the two series at home against Australia and New Zealand, possibly in the T20I.

To that end, Mohammad Rizwan, who is on Pakistan's A side to face Australia next week, will probably continue as reserve throughout the season. Mohammad Hasan, another wicketkeeper, could also be summoned as Rizwan's coverage for the Pakistan games later in the season.

When asked after the Bangladesh game if he needed to rest, Sarfraz replied: "This is not my job, this is the job of the selection committee and the PCB, let them decide." I gave them an answer, it's not my job My job is to play, I'll play, I'll keep playing. "

Osman Samiuddin is the main editor of ESPNcricinfo

ESPN Sports Media Ltd.


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