November 15th, 2013
Sarfaraz Ahmed – The man behind the madness
Up until a week ago, he was the most hated man in Pakistan when the infamous yawning photo becoming a meme all over.
I’ve been following the career of Sarfraz since the time he was the U19 captain leading us to that famous win against India due to the magical spell from Anwar Ali. He is a leader by nature but not as vocal or defying as the famous PM Imran Khan who led us to the glory of the 1992 World Cup win.
As you all may have noticed, the shouting from behind the stumps, the yelling to the outfielders, the constant advice to the young bowlers had stopped and it was leading our team to nowhere. Against India, there was no excitement when a wicket was taken, no yelling at the bowlers from behind the stumps, no chit chat with seniors and that was one of the reasons behind this loss. Right after that match Sarfraz was the target of many. One of the worst incident happened on Friday (before the South Africa game), when a hater went overboard and used insulting words for Sarfaraz while he was with his son. Any other person would have reacted aggressively but Sarfraz surprisingly handled it really well and kept his patience. This incident definitely shook Sarfraz and I’m sure he did a lot of soul searching. This was visible in the next match against SA where Sarfraz was back to his normal ways and being vocal behind the stumps. He became the father figure for Babar, Imam and Shadab. This was reflected in the 3 wickets taken by Shadab in the middle overs which was missing in the prior games.
Onwards to the NZ game, the catch by Sarfraz, a full stretch dive to his right, to get Ross Taylor exhibited the confidence of Sarfraz as a captain and the leader of this young Pakistani side. He made some brave decisions, kept an aggressive field, gambled with Shaheen for a 7 over spell which he would not have done earlier in the tournament. In the end all these decisions resulted in a comprehensive win against the undefeated New Zealand team. After a convincing win, when the men in green were walking back to the dressing room, Sarfaraz asked the crowd to cheer for Babar. This shows what this 32 year man is to this team. He may not be Imran Khan but he is someone whose leadership skills has gotten these boys to perform out of their skins and gotten them on the cusp of qualifying for the semifinals of the World Cup, a prospect which looked dead after the defeat against India.
In my view, he is the best captain after Imran Khan. He gets respect from the fellow players, I’m an eye witness to this. Our media blows everything out of proportion and when we win all is well but one loss and all hell breaks loose. The man has won an U19 World Cup, Champion’s trophy, three times PSL finalist and PSL champion 2019. These achievements were no fluke. It was the leadership of Sarfraz that got the teams through the final hurdle.