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Waqar all-praise for Sarfraz's rise as a keeper-batsman

DUBAI: Pakistan coach Waqar Younis praised the effort of Sarfraz Ahmed as he top-scored with an unbeaten 76 off 64 balls.

Waqar felt that Sarfraz was going through a purple patch in his career.

"It's been a good 7-8 months that he has started coming out of his shell and playing his own game. He's a stroke maker and he likes to play his shots," said Waqar.

Sarfraz is now playing with a free approach that he has not shown since his earlier days as wicket-keeper-batsman.

'"When he's free and has less pressure on him, I feel that he plays a lot better than anyone else. The freedom has been given to Sarfraz to play the way he plays and he's come good for Pakistan.

"There is less pressure on Sarfraz when he's been given the license to go out there and play his natural game. He's playing really well and it's good to take advantage of the good form Sarfraz is in," added Waqar.

Since the departure of Kamran Akmal from the squad, the Pakistan team had been searching for a wicket-keeper-batsman who could bat well. That's the reason why the emergence of Sarfraz has pleased Waqar.

"We had an issue with our wicket-keeper-batsmen not scoring runs since the fading of Kamran Akmal. But now we have Sarfraz who not only keeps wicket well, but also bats well."

Still a few slots to fill

But Waqar was not willing to commit if Sarfraz was the long-term choice for the slot of opener.

"We have a choice; he is in good form. Ahmed [Shehzad] is not doubt our regular opener. But since he got hit and went back, he had not played much cricket. Then he got unwell after coming he arrived here. So we decided to go in for a makeshift opener. Ahmed is one of our finest openers. We won't be ignoring him. We will look to use him in one-dayers when he becomes completely fit,'' revealed Waqar.

The former Pakistan captain also revealed that the think-tank is looking at the upcoming one-day series as an opportunity to try out a few players.

"We have announced the squad for just the first two one-dayers. We will look at it on a trial basis. It does not mean we will take it easy. We will try to win. But also look at the boys who are in squad."

Waqar felt the side still had a few slots to fill.

Team effort

"Here we were feeling that we do not have the bowlers. Now suddenly we have six-seven good bowlers. They all are fit and it is becoming difficult to select from among them. That is a good sign. Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, Sohail Tanvir are there, Junaid Khan is not fit yet. We are lucky to have choices. In the batting department too there are two-three slots," added Waqar.

Pakistan coach also felt that the win in the first T20I was a total team effort.

"We played good cricket. Whether Brendon McCullum played or not, Pakistan deserve full credit for the way they played. We bowled well and batted well. The dew factor was there in the first innings too. But we still did well,'' said Waqar.

Waqar Younis’s media conference (in Urdu):

Waqar Younis’s media conference (in English):