Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed admitted frustration with his side’s fielding performance as Australia’s total proved just too much to chase down at Taunton.
Sarfaraz’s team won their ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup match against England last week largely because Eoin Morgan’s side produced an uncharacteristic poor display in the field. Roles were reversed against Australia, as dropped catches, misfields and overthrows made a big difference, Pakistan’s chase falling 41-runs short of their 307 total.
Asif Ali dropped opener Aaron Finch on 33 and then saw him go on to add another 49 runs to his score, in an ultimately decisive first wicket partnership with David Warner.
Asif’s day didn’t get any better when he dropped the simplest of chances, later on, his relief palpable as Warner went a few balls later for 107.
“We made too many mistakes in all departments,” said Sarfaraz.
“I’m very disappointed with our fielding, it is not up to the mark or standard expected. We will have to work hard to improve on this before we play India, there can be no excuse.”
But there are some positives for Sarfaraz to take into this weekend’s clash with India at Old Trafford. Mohammad Amir produced a brilliant display of swing and seam bowling to bank career-best figures of 5/30 as Australia lost their last seven wickets for just 86 runs. And they looked doomed when seven wickets down and 108 runs short of their target, only for Sarfaraz and Wahab Riaz to put on a record eighth-wicket stand for Pakistan at the World Cup.
But the turning point came when Riaz was caught behind by Alex Carey off the bowling of Mitchell Starc. "I'm very disappointed. We lost three wickets in 15 balls and that's why we lost,” added Sarfaraz.
"We conceded too many runs in the first 20 overs, we came back and restricted them well but it was a 270-280 pitch. We made some runs and got starts but we've got to convert them and go long. If you want to win matches your top four must score runs," added Sarfaraz.
Sarfaraz did save some praise for the performance of Amir, originally left out of Pakistan’s World Cup team but now the leading wicket-taker at the tournament after his first-ever five-wicket haul.
“If you take a positive from this match it is how Mohammad is bowling for us, that is a big thing to take into our next matches,” he said.
Indian captain Virat Kohli regards Amir as one of the toughest bowlers to face and Warner, who ducked and dived under a barrage of his deliveries, admits he will be key if Pakistan are to progress in the tournament.
“He's a world-class bowler. When he's swinging it, it's very difficult to try to get on top of him. Then when it's seaming and swinging, it's even harder,” he said.
(With inputs from ICC)