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June 16, 2019

You can become heroes tomorrow, Arthur tells Pak players


June 16, 2019

MANCHESTER: Great coaches are almost always the ones who can inspire their charges to achieve greatness. They are usually the ones who strike a chord especially during crunch occasions, writes Khalid Hussain.

Whether Mickey Arthur is a great coach might always be a debatable issue.

But Pakistan’s head coach tried to inspire his team ahead of their high-pressure World Cup match against arch-rivals India here at Old Trafford on Sunday.

“It doesn’t get bigger than that. It doesn’t get more exciting. I’m telling our players in the dressing room, you could be a hero tomorrow. Your careers are going to be defined by a moment in the game. You do something incredible tomorrow, you’ll be remembered forever.”

This is what Arthur told his boys as they prepared to take on their biggest match of the World Cup yet.

“We’ve got 15 incredible cricketers in that dressing room, and we keep stressing to them, how do you want to be remembered? You’re the class of 2019. What are they going to say about you in history? And tomorrow presents an unbelievable opportunity for these guys to really make a mark,” he told reporters here at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Minutes before Arthur spoke to the media, Indian captain Virat Kohli was asked in ten different ways how Sunday’s game was different for India. He insisted it was just a game where you have to play well to win.

Arthur agreed with Kohli but did concede that the massive hype around the match added to the pressure.

“There’s always pressure in any game, and these games carry exactly the same amount of points. They carry two points. Obviously, there’s a massive hype that’s created a lot of time by the media really. Our guys are prepared. We’re ready. We’re comfortable that we can get out there and perform, and we are so excited about the opportunity tomorrow,” he said.

Arthur was new in the job when Pakistan stunned India in the Champions Trophy final in 2017. Does Arthur believe Pakistan can pull off a similar surprise on Sunday?

“That (the Champions Trophy win) was a long time ago. We’re concentrating at the moment on our own games because we know, if we put three disciplines together, we can beat anybody in the world. We’re comfortable with our game plans. We’re comfortable with our personnel. We’re comfortable with our players.”

Despite their morale-boosting triumph against England, Arthur doesn’t believe that Pakistan have yet to play to their potential in the World Cup.

“We haven’t put the perfect game together yet. Our disciplines have been good with the bat, have been okay with the ball and okay in the field. If we put the perfect game together, we can beat everybody.

Pakistan have continued to be an unpredictable team even under Arthur’s charge though the coach like to bring that he has brought more structure to it.

“I like to think we’ve become a lot more structured as a team. I think there’s been a lot more role clarity given to players, and hopefully that bridges the gap between being consistent and being inconsistent.

“But that unpredictability tag always sort of hangs around the Pakistan team, and that makes us very exciting.

“When we get a little bit tentative, we tend to fall off the ball a little bit, and the message for the boys tomorrow is not to hold back. We want to leave everything out on the ground, whether that’s with bat, ball, or in the field.”

Arthur pointed out that despite the presence of the aging duo of Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez, Pakistan are the youngest team in the World Cup.

“We’re the youngest team. We’ve got two 38-year-olds on our squad, and we’re still the youngest team by a couple of years in this competition, and I just think that goes and bears so well for Pakistan cricket going forward.”

Just like Taunton, Manchester could be wet and cold on Sunday but Arthur is of the view that the wicket is totally different. “The wicket is certainly a lot browner than Taunton was,” said Arthur adding that Pakistan will decide their final eleven after taking a look at weather conditions on Sunday morning.”

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