Misbah reveals Sarfaraz’s reservations about playing in third England T20I

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England's Joe Root (R) plays a shot over the top of Pakistan's Sarfraz Ahmed during the international Twenty20 cricket match between England and Pakistan at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff, south Wales, on May 5, 2019. (Photo by GEOFF CADDICK / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. NO ASSOCIATION WITH DIRECT COMPETITOR OF SPONSOR, PARTNER, OR SUPPLIER OF THE ECB

Pakistan’s head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq has confirmed that wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed had reservations regarding playing the third and final T20I against England in Southampton.

The former Men in Green skipper was named in the Test and T20I squad for the tour against England.

However, the 33-year-old did not play a five-day game on the trip nor was he picked for the first two 20-over fixtures.

The Karachi-born was part of the playing XI in the third game which Pakistan won by five runs to draw the three-match series 1-1.

Mohammad Rizwan took over the wicketkeeping responsibilities from the veteran campaigner after a disappointing series against Sri Lanka in 2019.

The 28-year-old was named player of the series after scoring two crucial half-centuries for the visiting side in the three-match Test series which they lost by 1-0 margin against the Three Lions.

Misbah, while talking to ESPNcricinfo, said that Sarfaraz was concerned that he would be judged based on his performance in just one fixture.

“He didn’t refuse to play but raised genuine reservations over being asked to play in the last match of the tour,” said the chief selector. “The situation naturally gives you a concern and that’s fair because he thought that a dip in his performance may get us to judge him going forward.”

“Babar, Younis [Khan, the batting coach] and I spoke with him and told him that he did well on the tour and he should play one game without any additional pressure. There was a need for clarity and we communicated effectively with him well before the game. We told him that performances aren’t judged on the basis of just one game. He worked hard throughout the tour, did well in the side matches and kept well.”

The 43-year-old further stated that Sarfaraz can still play a key role for the team in the future. “We have two keepers at the moment, and Rizwan is our No. 1 choice; he is doing great in terms of performance and enjoys our utmost confidence. And Saifi right now is our second choice. He has done great in the past and can still contribute in the future.”