PSL 2019

Can Sarfraz retain his spot if given a chance in England?

Danyal Ahmad

One of the most successful T20 captains of Pakistan and 1st one to lead Pakistan towards a major 50 over title in 2017 since 1992 is back in the team. Sarfraz was not only sacked from the role of captain but was nowhere in any of the formats including Tests, ODIs and T20Is. With covid-19 tests coming out as positive of the 1st choice Test wicket-keeper Rizwan, there has been some mercy and relief for Sarfraz at the same time. He might get his chance earlier than expected. Rizwan will get himself quarantined and he may well settle before 1st test which begins after a month from now, however, Sarfraz can still be part of first Xi on the tour.

The 33-year old wicket keeper batsman had proven his performances in domestic cricket with scoring 340 runs at an average of 48.50 along with 1 century to his name. He was also involved in 17 dismissals behind the wickets. His fitness and a decent performance in first class season had kept him in the hunt. In comparison to Rizwan, PSL 2020 was one tournament in which both were playing at a same time but somehow Sarfraz got the lead here. Without a doubt, he had an average PSL season but was successful in making a comeback because no other keeper outperformed in the PSL season.
On the other end, Rizwan wasn’t selected in playing eleven for majority of the season as he played 3 matches only and soon his franchise had sidelined him as 2nd choice wicket-keeper. Chadwick Walton was the wicket-keeper batsman opted by Karachi Kings. Talking of performances in England, Sarfraz has done pretty well in limited overs format since 2018. He likes batting in the UK, one of his ODI centuries came at Lords Cricket Ground. On the same ground, he was able to score vital 40 odd runs that helped Pakistan in winning a test match last year.

Furthermore, he averages 59 in ODIs against England and in last 2 years, his average is 89 against the same opposition. Whereas, Rizwan hasn’t played any Test or T20I in England and has only 2 ODIs to his name against England and in England. The vital factor that has helped Sarfraz in retaining his spot for a major part of his career was his wicket keeping abilities. His performance in 2019 world cup in England were also one of the decent one as he was able to complete 12 dismissals in 8 matches. Similarly, in 2019’s domestic season, he had 17 dismissals in 5 matches. In last 2 years at international level, he has 47 dismissals in 11 tests, 37 dismissals in 35 ODIs and 23 in same number of T20Is.

In addition to that, Sarfraz’s record in comparison to all the other modern keepers that Pakistan has produced till date has also been great. Sarfraz has the best batting averages in ODIs and Tests compared to Kamran Akmal, Moin Khan and Rashid Latif. Dropping Sarfraz can put up serious questions as his performances in tests were clearly dropping, although, he was still performing consistently in limited overs at that time.