Pakistan were ‘definitely intimidated’ ahead of India clash: Mickey Arthur

Champions Trophy
“We went out and were definitely intimidated — which was disappointing.” — AFP/File

CARDIFF: Pakistan’s humiliating 124-run defeat to India in their ICC Champions Trophy opener was purely down to lack of belief and fear according to Head Coach Mickey Arthur.

Sarfraz Ahmed and company were blown away with ease by Virat Kohli’s India in a match where Pakistan had ‘nothing to lose’ according to their skipper ahead of it.

Batting, fielding and bowling; both departments displayed total disarray in the forgettable loss.

“We just didn’t believe well enough against India,” Arthur said during a press conference on Saturday.

“We went out and were definitely intimidated — which was disappointing,” he added.

Arthur believed the Pakistan camp’s approach ahead of their second game against South Africa was the true portrayal of what the players and staff have been working on and how they wanted to play.

Pakistan came back from humiliation by India to dent the world number one Proteas with a 19-run win by D/L method.

The ‘Green Shirts’ upped their game and put up a great bowling and fielding show, followed by a responsible performance from the batsmen.

“If you had look at us after India and after South Africa it was a marked transformation,” said the 49-year-old.

“The way we came back against South Africa was how we trained, how we wanted to play, the brand of cricket we want to play,” added Arthur.

“There was a freshness, the intensity was good and we’ve got to keep taking that moving forward with it.”

Pakistan’s win over South Africa opened up the Group B wide and things became more interesting when Sri Lanka chased down a hefty total of 322 to beat India on Friday and put all four teams on equal points.

India clash with the Proteas while Pakistan take on the Lankan Lions in two virtual quarter-finals set to be played on Sunday and Monday respectively.

Arthur said the camp is all pumped up and ready to grab the opportunity to make it to the semi-finals with both hands.

Pakistan, who came in the tournament ranked eighth in the ICC ODI Rankings, will consider it a huge achievement.

“Sri Lanka are very dangerous, they played exceptionally well against India. It’s fearless cricket. They hit the ball hard, play outrageous shots. They will be a tough side to beat. We’ll have to be on our game,” he said.

It will also be a special occasion for Arthur as his Sri Lankan counterpart is his compatriot.

“Fordy and I have been very close over a long period of time so it’s taking on an old friend,” said the South African.

“Proud of all guys”

 Arthur further expressed satisfaction with how the squad has developed during his tenure.

“I’m proud of all the guys, you get very close to them. To see them perform is the best thing that can happen to any coach,” said Arthur.

The former Australia coach said he was excited about how players like Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim and Babar Azam have developed with time and what they can offer in the future.

“Hasan Ali is one of those. He’s come in, if you saw him now and remember him a year ago he’s developed, he’s stronger and fitter, his skills are developing and he will be a fine all-round cricketer. He can field, he can bat, and he can bowl. He’s in great shape so very proud of his development.

“He stands out as one of the beacons; him Babar Azam, Imad Wasim – we have some good young players coming through and we have to keep them believing.”

West Indies loss a ‘huge relief’

With Afghanistan beating the West Indies on Friday, Pakistan’s qualification for the 2019 World Cup became almost certain. It makes Arthur happy but he remains on focus.

“It’s been a focus of ours, we’ve had it over heads for a year and we’ve had some tough one-day series – England, Australia, they are tough – so to almost qualify is a huge relief but that doesn’t stop where we want to take the one-day team,” he said.

“We have to keep improving all the time, playing with intensity, keep the freshness so we can put a shake onto that 2019 World Cup,” added Arthur.