CARDIFF: Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur has insisted his side will not settle for simply reaching a Champions Trophy semi-final against England as he urged them to go “one step further”.
Arthur’s men were the lowest-ranked side when this tournament featuring the world’s top eight one-day international (ODI) teams got underway.
And their fans could have been forgiven for thinking the worst when Pakistan suffered a 124-run thrashing by arch-rivals and title-holders India in their Group B opener, with Arthur himself branding the team’s performance “shambolic”.
Yet they bounced back within days to defeat top-ranked South Africa, before sealing a last-four clash with tournament hosts England in Cardiff on Wednesday thanks to Monday’s nail-biting three-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the Welsh capital.
Pakistan, chasing 237 to win, slumped to 162 for seven before an unbroken eighth-wicket stand of 75 between skipper Sarfraz Ahmed (61 not out) and Mohammad Amir (28 not out) saw them to a dramatic win.
‘Never be satisfied’
All of Pakistan’s matches so far in the tournament have either been in Birmingham or Cardiff but with Sunday’s final at the Oval, Arthur told reporters in Cardiff on Tuesday: “We want to end up in London.
“We certainly didn’t want to be just making up the numbers in this competition, and we’ve shown that we weren’t,” said the South African, who took charge of Pakistan just prior to their tour of England last year.
“Now we need to go one step further and never be satisfied.
“The last thing I want is for us to go away now thinking that we got to a semi-final, we’re okay, we’ve achieved, because that would be a cop-out in my mind.”
England, the only team in the semi-finals with a perfect played three, won three group record, will be favourites on Wednesday and Arthur said: “We’ve got nothing to lose, yes, but we’ve always said we’re in it to win it.
“We know that realistically England are playing unbelievably well. They’re a really, really good one-day unit with no apparent weaknesses.”
But Pakistan did beat England by four wickets in an ODI in Cardiff last year, albeit the Durham duo of Mark Wood and Ben Stokes will be England’s only survivors from their bowling attack that match come Wednesday’s clash.
“At the end of the (Sri Lanka) game, we stressed that we need to play our best game, and if we play our best game, we can put them (England) under pressure,” Arthur explained.
“Then it’s about taking those moments, and running with them, like we did last year here in Cardiff.
“So, hopefully, we can put our best game together tomorrow, and then who knows?”
Arthur said a scrappy win over Sri Lanka would do wonders for his side, saying: “When you win ugly, you learn a lot about the team. So I guess it gives a lot of confidence.”
Pakistan have long been known as an “unpredictable” side, a tag that all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez said he embraced in the build-up to the Sri Lanka match.
Former South Africa and Australia coach Arthur, while wishing Pakistan were more consistently successful, said he was proud of the character his side had shown after a thumping loss to India.
“We were written off totally, and probably rightly so, after the Indian clash because we were shambolic. We were terrible,” said Arthur.
Nevertheless, he added: “It’s just shown the resolve the players have had… I’m incredibly proud of how we pulled ourselves off the canvas after India.”