Pakistan’s head coach Mickey Arthur praised his team’s progress in one-day cricket, primarily in reducing their dot ball percentage as they look for a another clean sweep against the West Indies in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
Pakistan lead the three-match series 2-0 and look favourite to clinch the third match, even without pace bowler Mohammad Amir who returned home to attend his ailing mother.
Pakistan posted 284-9 in the first match which they won by 111 runs and then posted their highest total against West Indies of 337-5 in the second, winning by 59 runs.
Arthur said batters were achieving small goals.
“Our batters’ assessment is based on little goals that we set for ourselves as a unit, as a team so I am looking at lot more rotation of strikes, I am seeing us perform better in the last ten overs and I am looking at executing our skills better with the ball,” said Arthur after Monday’s practice.
“So those are little things, we are not worried about who we are playing against or our opponents. West Indies are a very good side. I would rather not write them off, I would like people writing we played well rather than West Indies were playing poorly because they are a good team.
Arthur was pleased at reducing the dot-ball percentage, from their 4-1 defeat in England earlier this month.
“We have got our own little goals that we set in our change room. Its very pleasing to see us meeting those challenges, we had 36 percent dot balls the other night which is nearly the best since I am coaching (after the second ODI) in across the board. In England our dot ball percentage was 48 percent and its now down to 36 which means we are scoring 64 percent of the balls and that’s why we are getting 320s and 330s ”
Arthur said his team will not take West Indies lightly, despite their lack of competition.
“I think the West Indies are a quality team and we are fortunate enough to be able to apply pressure on them and keep them under pressure for the duration of the tour, so from that point of view we only worried about themselves, we have done some very good things and we are really happy about that.
“I just want to reiterate that WI are a very good team and we don’t want to disrespect them in any way.”
Pakistan’s 3-0 win will give them eighth position in the ODI rankings and ease their direct entry in the 2019 World Cup in England.
But Arthur said the goal is to achieve top four position.
“Look, everyone knows that we have to be in the top eight this time, next year so we will be doing our utmost to win that (last match) and also part of our evolution as a team is to be ruthless and we don’t want to be complacent, like we were in the T20s, we don’t want to think that we have won the series so back off, but we have got so many more goals as a one-day unit to achieve.”
“We have to push the players as a coaching group and as a support staff we will keep hammering them so they keep getting better. We have to make sure to ticking off our goals that we have set for us and only then we will be comfortable that we can be get into the top, not eight, but in the top forum and then sustain that so we have a lot of work to do get there yet.”
Arthur was also pleased with Pakistan’s death overs bowling:
“I think we have been great. I think Amir in the last T20s we executed well and bowling to Samuels and Pollard and they cant get away which was great. I am really happy how we executed then.
“I am very impressed with the way Wahab Riaz come back in the back end of the innings and got crucial wickets and we can always get better but I am very comfortable of our progress that we are going in the right direction.”
Arthur said next year’s Champions Trophy will help him gauge the progress toward the goals of achieving the top four position.:
“Of course top position is a goal. We just want to keep tracking and keep getting better and better so that when we get to the World Cup, I think the real good beckon is the Champions Trophy next year.
“I think if we get to the CT and do well then we will know we are in the right direction and can set up a good World Cup down the line but that’s too far in the future. We have to concentrate on one thing and that’s tomorrow and win the match because winning breeds confidence and when players have got confidence they go and execute better and better and start believing in the brand of cricket they play.”
Arthur hoped the bowlers in reserves will help overcome the absence of Amir.
“I think Amir is getting better and better. The other day he generated good pace. He bowled hell of a lot in England so he needed some rest and one thing he did was to get married. We wish his mother a speedy recovery so that he come back with us and get him ready for the first Test.
“That’s very encouraging and we can think as host of bowlers who are not here, so we are starting to develop a food base of players who can play for Pakistan and the best thing about this is that they know what the standards are, they know what requirements are and they know there are no free pass to get into the team.”
Arthur said he was not worried about skipper Azhar Ali’s poor form.
“He has been very good round the group he has been outstanding, watching him bat in the nets he is hitting the ball very very well. He just needs a start and some time out in the middle as he is hitting the ball well. He has been bearing up very well, positive around the group and there are no issues.”
Arthur praised young seamer Hasan Ali as special talent.
“Hasan has been impressive. I am incredibly impressive with his work ethics and the way he trains with intensity. He is a young guy and is very fit. He can bat and is a very good fielder and when you pick the ODI team you look at what he brings to the team and he brings a lot of quality and I think he can get better and better.”