Champions Trophy 2017

Captain Sarfraz Ahmed intends to preserve Pakistan’s superior record vs India at Champions Trophy

Unlike World T20 or the ICC World Cup, Pakistan have won two and lost only once against India in the tournament’s history.

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed is confident that his team will be able to maintain their superior record in the Champions Trophy against arch-rivals India as they gear up for a showdown on June 4.

Unlike the 50-over and T20 World Cups, Pakistan have a healthy record against India in the competition – winning two and losing only one of their previous meetings.

“We have a better record against India in the Champions Trophy, not in other competitions. We are looking to maintain that against them and it’s very exciting,” the 29-year-old was quoted as saying at his pre-tournament press conference.

And while that game may be particularly special for the fans back home, Sarfraz is adamant his side will take its preparations one day, and one game, at a time. “We have nothing to lose, we just want to play our natural game. We have just played a very good series in the West Indies, where the players performed very well.

“We are very hopeful of playing well in this tournament and we want to win it. It is a very exciting time for us, there have been a lot of practice sessions at Edgbaston and we are ready to play,” he said.

He said the team has rectified the mistakes it made in the West Indies. “Against the West Indies, our fielding improved – there were one or two dropped catches but it was still an improvement so we are happy with that.”

He promised to play “free cricket” during the tournament: “We don’t see us as having a surprise element, we want to come here and play free cricket, starting against India. We are taking matches one by one and the Pakistan team is hopeful of building some confidence starting in the warm-up matches.”

‘Bangladesh has performed very well’

Sarfraz also praised Bangladesh, with the two teams set to meet here for a warm-up match in Edgbaston on Saturday. Sixth-ranked Bangladesh are playing their first Champions Trophy since 2006 and currently sit higher than Pakistan in the rankings, with Sarfraz admitting he has been impressed by Bangladesh over the last 18 months.

“Over the past one-and-a-half years, Bangladesh has performed very well,” he said. “The warm-up game is a good opportunity for both teams before the Champions Trophy. Both teams want to win so it’s a good practice match to have.

“Over the past few years they’ve done well and we’ll see its batsmen, like Tamim Iqbal, if we play in the semi-finals.”

Having taken over captaincy only in February, the Champions Trophy marks the first major tournament at the helm for Sarfraz. He boasts a positive record so far, winning three of his four matches as captain, coming from behind to secure his first series win as skipper in the West Indies.

“This is my first major tournament as captain, I’m definitely very hopeful and excited about the competition. My aim is to play my own game, to not play under pressure and to just play as I do in domestic cricket,” he added.

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