Millennium Post

Sarfraz hails 'home' crowd after stunning Proteas

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed said playing in front of a 'home' crowd had helped inspire his side to a shock 19-run win over South Africa in the Champions Trophy at Edgbaston.

Pakistan went from zeroes to heroes in three days, bouncing back from a 124-run thrashing by arch-rivals India to topple the world's number one-ranked ODI side.

Pakistan fans dominated a crowd of more than 16,000, giving it the air of a home game for Sarfraz's men in Birmingham, a city with one of the largest Asian populations in Britain.

"That is a feeling we miss, not playing in Pakistan," said Sarfraz.

"Maybe that was a difference, the crowd was supporting us and that's why the players were boosted."

Pakistan have had to play most of their matches overseas since a 2009 terror attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore.

But chants of "Pakistan Zindabad!" ("Long live Pakistan!") rang round Edgbaston which was turned into a sea of green.

Sarfraz's side gave their fans reason to cheer when spinners Imad Wasim and Mohammad Hafeez took three early wickets before paceman Hasan Ali removed a trio of middle- order batsmen.

Pakistan kept the Proteas to a modest 219 for eight in their 50 overs, having conceded exactly 100 more against title-holders India.

"I think the difference was our bowling and fielding," said wicketkeeper-captain Sarfraz.

"Mohammad Hafeez and Imad Wasim bowled really well and they took the pressure off for us," he said.

"We had a good bowling meeting (on Tuesday)," added Sarfraz, who saw his attack rebound after India struck 72 from the final four overs of their innings on Sunday. We took wickets. If you take wickets, every good team feels under pressure," he said.
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