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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

Pakistan's record-breaking T20 streak down to 'effort', insists captain Sarfraz Ahmed

A six-wicket win over New Zealand in Dubai on Friday clinched an 11th consecutive series for Pakistan

Sarfraz Ahmed his pleased with his team's form which has seen Pakistan win 11 consecutive T20 series. AFP
Sarfraz Ahmed his pleased with his team's form which has seen Pakistan win 11 consecutive T20 series. AFP

Sarfraz Ahmed said Pakistan’s record-breaking streak in Twenty20 cricket is testament to the hard work put in by his players.

Pakistan beat New Zealand by six wickets, with two balls to spare at the Dubai International Stadium on Friday night.

That meant they sealed their three-match series with Sunday’s final match still left to play. It is their 11th series win in succession in the format, which is a world record.

The match victory also gave them an eighth consecutive T20I win, which equals their own national record. Afghanistan hold the overall longest winning streak in the short format, with 11.

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Unsurprisingly, given those statistics, Pakistan are the No 1 side in the world in T20, and Sarfraz, the captain, paid tribute to his team.

“It’s down to the effort of the players,” Sarfraz said. “We have a good balance. We know we can get 150 to 160 [as] if we start well, and if we don’t let too many dot balls in the middle, we have the experience of [Mohammed] Hafeez and [Shoaib] Malik as well.

“The boys know well how to play this game. And they're learning day by day. Whether it’s Babar [Azam] or Fakhar [Zaman] or Faheem [Ashraf], they know where to field in the last overs.

“They know how to bat in the last overs. I don't need to do anything. Babar is in great form. We pick players in form in domestic cricket, that's how we brought Hafeez back and he's been doing very well as well.”

Babar, the No 1 batsman in the world in the format, started the pursuit of 154 to win against New Zealand in steady fashion, with 40 from 41 balls.

Once he and Asif Ali had gone, there was still much work to do in the run-chase.

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Hafeez, though, played a perfect hand, ending not out on 34 off just 21 balls, and crashing the winning runs off the fourth ball of Adam Milne’s final over.

New Zealand’s total of 153-7 was above the average first innings score over history at the Dubai International Stadium.

Colin Munro made 44 and Corey Anderson finished on 44 not out, but Shaheen Afridi, the 18-year-old left-arm fast-bowler, blunted the scoring.

He earned the man of the match award for taking 3-20 off his four overs.

“I think we have all seen the nature of play over here in the UAE,” said Kane Williamson, the New Zealand captain, who took a brilliant catch to dismiss Fakhar.

“It is a style of cricket, and something we have worked really hard at to implement. I think we have done that to a certain extent, but we are playing against a very good Pakistan side – the best side, I think, in T20 cricket.

“With their knowledge of their home conditions, and how clinical they are, I think it is important we take little lessons from the way they are playing their cricket.

“We are obviously not far away. They are small margins, so it is important we look at the positives, and there are plenty. We want to build on those.”