Russell's spell was the turning point – Sarfaraz Ahmed

Andre Russell‘s spell broke Pakistan’s back, and that was the “turning point” of the match, according to Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed. Pakistan sank to an embarrassing defeat in their World Cup 2019 opener, shot out for 105 in 21.4 overs, with West Indies chasing down the target in just 13.4 overs.

“Pressure was built when we lost our first wicket in the fourth over,” Sarfaraz said. “His [Russell’s] spell was the turning point. He took two wickets and that put us on the backfoot (immediately).”

Russell got Fakhar Zaman and Haris Sohail inside the first ten overs, in a spell that read 3-1-4-2. That sparked a collapse which Oshane Thomas completed with 4 for 27. Chris Gayle then led the way as West Indies hammered the target in about an hour’s worth of play. Sarfaraz said his players needed to erase the debacle from their minds and start afresh for the rest of the tournament.

“First ten overs we lost too many wickets, and that’s why we could not come back into the game,” Sarfaraz said, while disagreeing with the view that Pakistan’s batsmen were not ready for the West Indies strategy of targetting them with aggressive, short-pitched bowling.

“We were aware of the West Indies fast bowlers, and that they bowl 90-plus (mph),” he said. “We had practised a lot (against that kind of bowling). It is just that in the first ten overs, our shot selection was not good and we lost wickets. If we had managed to survive that phase then probably the situation could have been different.”

Asked whether the batsmen were asked to adopt a different approach to their natural game after Pakistan lost the toss in overcast conditions, Sarfaraz reluctantly agreed. “In the first 90 minutes in England, in overcast conditions, it helps the bowling,” he said. “The behaviour of the pitch in Nottingham was slightly different today. Usually the ball comes nicely on to the bat on the Nottingham pitch, but if you noticed today in the latter half of the match, the ball was gripping the surface. The first two wickets were soft: Imam was caught behind on the legside and unfortunately Fakhar got out after the ball hit his helmet and then rolled onto the stumps.

“We have to play good cricket. In overcast conditions where you bat first, we have to try and not lose early wickets. Then we can play better.”

While acknowledging that the dressing room was disappointed with the defeat, Sarfaraz said that with eight games still remaining for his team, they had plenty of opportunities to put up better performances. “It was just a bad day for us today. And we did not play good cricket. Once we lost our first three wickets we could not come back into this game. Inshallah we will make a comeback.”

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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