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'Atmosphere wasn't especially polite' - Sarfraz

ESPNCricInfo
19 Oct 2018, 23:42 GMT+10

9:13 AM ET

In the aftermath of Sandpapergate, Australia have undergone cultural reviews for their on-field behaviour. Tim Paine is taking his side into a new era of pre-match handshakes and banter, not abuse. But that doesn't mean Australia have become all shy and retiring.

At least Sarfraz Ahmed didn't think so: his assessment of Australia's behaviour in their first Test assignment since the Newlands ball-tampering controversy was that the series wasn't played in "an especially polite atmosphere".

There was no major discord to speak of between the two teams - there hasn't been between these two sides in the modern era. But asked whether he saw a difference in behaviour between the 2014 Australian visiting side and this one, Sarfraz confirmed that the verbals at least had not disappeared entirely.

Nathan Lyon was a prominent on-field chatterer through both Tests, from his warnings of spinning Pakistan out in Dubai to some jousting with Sarfraz on the third day in Abu Dhabi, where he questioned whether the captain was playing for his own hundred or the team cause.

"We had quite a bit of chatter throughout with him [Lyon], he spoke a lot and we did as well," Sarfraz said. "I told him that you've had a six hit off you, if I was in your place I would want to be hit for another six by keeping mid-on up.

"It was nothing unusual, they were also playing. You can say yes, they are also going through a process and are trying to fix things after what has happened with them, but it wasn't like it was an especially polite atmosphere out there."

Sarfraz is not the kind to take a step back when it comes to these exchanges. A viral clip of him telling Martin Guptill exactly where to go in a T20 in New Zealand earlier this year is testament to that. And he didn't hold back from engaging Glenn Maxwell when Pakistan and Australia met in Zimbabwe earlier this year, in the final of a T20 tri-series. That little duel ended in Maxwell refusing to shake Sarfraz's hand after the game, though Maxwell later put that down to "a genuine oversight" on his part.

In that sense, Sarfraz is a marked change from Misbah-ul-Haq, from whom drawing a sledge on field was harder than drawing milk from a stone. Misbah's sides were, more or less, in his mould.

Pakistan can expect more, and perhaps of a more robust nature, when they travel to South Africa later this year for a three-Test series. Sarfraz will not go looking for it.

"There's a saying pari lakri ko choona nahi chahiye," he said, a saying that loosely means you shouldn't go around seeking out trouble. "If you go to Australia or South Africa, you know there you are already fighting such top teams, you're fighting with bounce, with swing, with seam, then if you start fighting the players you're making it more difficult for yourself.

"It's a simple formula, when you are batting, don't look for trouble. Just play cricket and concentrate on your performance. You're already playing such top teams. If some guy does say something to you, if he says something personal, then ok you can talk back, but otherwise you don't need to say anything. Play and perform."

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