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  5. Sarfraz Ahmed questions Asia Cup scheduling in India's favour, expresses concern at Md. Amir not taking wickets

Sarfraz Ahmed questions Asia Cup scheduling in India's favour, expresses concern at Md. Amir not taking wickets

India were to play two matches in Abu Dhabi but the schedule was tweaked to allow Rohit Sharma's men to play all their matches in Dubai.

Reported by: PTI, Dubai [ Published on: September 18, 2018 20:47 IST ]
Image Source : GETTY IMAGES

Sarfraz Ahmed in a file image.

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed Tuesday said he is concerned at the wicket-less spell of his strike bowler Mohammad Aamir, as his side geared up to take on arch-rivals India in the Asia Cup.

Left-arm pacer Aamir has not been amongst the wickets in recent times and his skipper was asked about it in the pre-match press conference.

"I am concerned but I don't think wickets itself are a reflection of performance. Take, for example, India pacer (Mohammad) Shami's case in England. He bowled well but couldn't get wickets. I have spoken to him (Aamir) and told him that he is our strike bowler and has to pick wickets too. Hope he does that tomorrow," Sarfraz told reporters.

Sarfraz was also asked about Virat Kohli's absence but he felt that India may not miss their captain in these conditions.

"As a team not to have your regular captain is a factor. There could be a difference in the frame of mind. But they have enough players who have done well for them, and the conditions are also the same for them. If conditions are adverse then a world class player makes a difference," Sarfraz said on the eve of the big game.

Kohli has been rested for the continental tournament after the long tour of England.

He also expressed his displeasure at the Indian team playing all its Asia Cup matches in Dubai while the others are being made to shuttle between Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

India were to play two matches in Abu Dhabi but the schedule was tweaked to allow Rohit Sharma's men to play all their matches in Dubai.

Asked about the scheduling being skewed in India's favour, Sarfraz said: "If you look at the schedule, even if India lose pool match, they still play in Dubai. Travelling is an issue. If you have to travel 90 minutes and then play matches with a gap of a single day, then it is challenging.

"I believe it should have been the same for all the teams, irrespective of whether it is India or Pakistan. I don't know what was Asian Cricket Council's thought behind this. I think PCB is looking into the matter," said Sarfraz.

It is learnt that the BCCI, which is hosting the tournament, decided against the shuttling of venues keeping the commercial conditions in mind.

"The Dubai International Stadium has a capacity of 25,000 which is 5000 more than the capacity of Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. For India versus Pakistan or India versus Bangladesh games, it is expected to be packed to capacity. BCCI is only getting the gate sales and how can we compromise on 5000 seats," a senior BCCI official present in Dubai told PTI on conditions of anonymity.

Pakistan kicked off their campaign with a comprehensive win over Hong Kong, but India are going to be a different ball game altogether.

"Pressure is always there but we deal with it by telling ourselves that we should have the same intensity for every match. We take these matches normally but there is hype everywhere else, it does affect but we play it as just any other match." 

Sarfraz refused to call the game India's batting versus Pakistan's bowling. "India might have prepared for our bowling, we have planned for their bowling too. We are prepared and will execute our plans in the match. I don't think it's India's batting versus our bowling, we have good batting too.

"They have got back-to-back matches but their schedule has started later than others. They would be under pressure because their performance coming into this tournament was not good." 

Pakistan defeated Hong Kong by eight wickets to make a positive start to their campaign. Pakistan have played a lot in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in recent years.

"People say it's our home ground but conditions are even for all the teams, the weather is like that of the sub-continent. It's a home ground for everyone. We are very clear about the team, I have discussed with the coach. We will field our best team." 

Pakistan got the better of India in the final of Champions Trophy last year, and Sarfraz said that the win will always remain special.

"That was past, that match was memorable, it would be remembered but it is a new match, new atmosphere, we would like to take the momentum of our last match into tomorrow's game.

"As for craze, when we are playing against India, everybody wants us to win. It inspires us, we get well wishes from fans. It's the same for Indians. Any player who performs here gets to be a hero, it has been the case in the past."

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to watch his country's group league encounter against India, according to media reports in Karachi.

Told about it, Sarfraz said, "Imran bhai has following all over. It would be nice for the fans and it would also be motivating for us.

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