LONDON (Reuters) - Former cricket all-rounder Shahid Afridi said it would be a mistake to write off Pakistan after they proved they remain arguably the most unpredictable team in international cricket by trumping South Africa.
Three days after being steamrolled by arch-rivals India, Sarfraz Khan and his team mates upset South Africa in a rain-hit match on Wednesday to revive their Group B campaign in Birmingham.
Consistency has never been their strong point but Afridi, who featured in Pakistan’s five Champions Trophy campaigns, said the win has the potential to transform the young side.
“It is heartening to see Pakistan play the way it did and I hope it continues its good work and brings smiles on the faces of our passionate cricket fans,” Afridi wrote in a column for cricket governing body website www.icc-cricket.com.
“I also feel that Pakistan shouldn’t be ruled out of title contention anymore. The win today can make this side do some amazing things in the tournament. Once again write Pakistan off at your own peril,” he added.
Paceman Hasan Ali led Pakistan’s improved bowling performance against South Africa, claiming 3-24 to help restrict the Proteas to 219-8 in 50 overs.
Pakistan were 119-3 in 27 overs, 19 runs ahead under the Duckworth-Lewis method - which governs such weather-hit contests - when rain intervened to give them their first win in the tournament.
Afridi was particularly impressed with 23-year-old Hasan Ali, who walked away with the man-of-the-match award.
”I don’t recall Pakistan fast bowlers delivering match-winning performances in recent years, hence Hasan’s three-wicket spell made me really happy.
“He is a mature bowler for his age, has decent pace and the ability of seaming the ball while he can also make the old ball reverse with impeccable control.”
Pakistan conclude their Group B campaign against Sri Lanka in Cardiff on Monday.
(The story was refiled to correct the day of the match)
Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by Gareth Jones