Sarfaraz Ahmed was in resurgent form on Day 1 of Pakistan’s ongoing first Test match vs New Zealand, in Karachi. Pakistan saw their top-order fall in disaster manner, giving flashbacks of their 0-3 whitewash by England. With the hosts at 110 for four after 28.4 overs, the former captain came to his side’s rescue, helping current captain Babar Azam take Pakistan to 317 at Stumps on Day 1.
The 35-year-old clobbered 86 runs off 153 balls, packed with nine fours. The wicketkeeper-batter eventually lost his wicket to Ajaz Patel in the 86th over with Pakistan at 306 for five. Receiving a full ball, he tried to drive it but managed an outside edge to Daryl Mitchell at first slip for a catch. The umpires referred it upstairs and replays showed that it was clean catch, ending Sarfaraz’s 196-run stand with Babar.
Shahid Afridi, who has been appointed as the interim chief selector for PCB, lavished praise on the veteran cricketer and stated that he ‘proved his selection right’. Taking to Twitter, the former player wrote, “Pleased with Pakistan’s performance today, great comeback after the early loss of wickets. Special praise for Babar for another outstanding innings. Sarfaraz proved his selection right, excellent performance for him under pressure.”
The knock was also a huge statement by Sarfaraz, who appeared in his first Test in almost four years and his very first one at home. Speaking after Day 1, Sarfaraz revealed that the match felt like his debut and his ‘heartbeat was very fast’. “You asked me about my feelings when I walked out to bat before lunch. If someone would have checked my heartbeat, the meter would have exploded”, he said.
“Heartbeat was very fast and it felt like my debut. I was playing after a long time and it was also a crunch situation. During lunch, people who have played with me in the past asked me to relax. I told them about my heartbeat which was very fast. When I walked back in, Babar gave me a lot of confidence. As a senior player, the way he carried me along – I needed a bit of confidence. When you play a match on comeback, it feels like the first time. Babar gave me confidence and Allah takes care of me”, he further added.
Pakistan were bowled out for 438 in Day 2, after 130.5 overs, as New Zealand trail by 437 runs. Tom Latham and Devon Conway have opened for the visitors and will be looking for a strong start. Meanwhile, Babar narrowly missed out on a double hundred, after slamming 161 runs off 280 balls, including 15 fours and a six.