LAHORE: Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur believes new captain Sarfraz Ahmed will bring some much-needed aggression to the limited-overs team who have struggled in the ODI format for the last two years. Arthur said Saturday that Pakistan had been playing ‘a very conservative type’ of one-day international cricket. This didn’t work “when other teams are scoring 320-340 runs. The South African was having a chat with media here at Gaddafi Stadium. Pakistan are No. 8 in one-day rankings and they can’t afford to slip any further by the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) September 30 deadline or they will have to play in the qualifying rounds of the 2019 World Cup. Azhar Ali quit the ODI captaincy after Pakistan lost the series in Australia 4-1 earlier this year. The Pakistan Cricket Board brought in Sarfraz, an attacking wicket keeper-batsman, as ODI captain. Sarfraz, who already leads Pakistan in Twenty20 internationals, will make his ODI debut as captain when Pakistan take on the West Indies in an ODI series next month. The first of four Twenty20s is on March 26. Guyana hosts all three ODIs, starting April 7. The three-Test series begins April 22 with Misbahul Haq retained as Pakistan captain.
Players’ fitness is another priority for Arthur. “This is what we are striving for,” he said. “It actually starts at the training ground, starts around the attitude toward fitness and once you get those, it’s easier to get the package in terms of the match.” The Pakistan selectors have picked rookie youngsters like all-rounder Shadab Khan and spinner Usama Mir, who both impressed in the Pakistan Super League. They are among 31 players for the training camp for the Twenty20 and ODI series against the West Indies. All players will take a fitness test before selectors finalise the squad. Head coach meets best domestic players: For the first time since he was appointed Pakistan coach 10 months ago, Arthur met the best domestic players in the country and, after running them through a three-day camp in Lahore, he was even able to find new talents who could be fast-tracked into the national side. “It was really good to see the full of reserve strength,” Arthur added. “These are the guys who have performed in domestic competitions and now we can put a name and we know exactly how they’ve performed we’ve taken a lot of notes on them, so it was great, it was really nice to see it, there was some nice talent which was pleasing to see. Ideally, we’re going to be building on this now and going forward, keep inviting these guys for more work. We took a couple of them out of the training camp that we saw here and we’ve put them onto our main group now. I think there’s five guys that have come up, which is great, the guys that we think could make a significant difference to our team at the moment. This is the incentive to those young guys to keep performing all the time.”