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June 25, 2019

Delighted Arthur heaps praise on ‘passionate’ Pakistan


June 25, 2019

LONDON: Pakistan are rising like the proverbial phoenix, at least that’s what their coach Mickey Arthur believes after his embattled team thrashed South Africa by 49 runs in a must-win World Cup match at Lord’s on Sunday.

Arthur, who jokingly said that he thought about committing suicide after Pakistan’s humiliating defeat against India at Old Trafford, announced on Sunday that his team was strong enough to beat any side in this World Cup.

Pakistan have to win their next three World Cup games against New Zealand, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to have any hopes of qualifying for the last four.

They were impressive in Sunday’s win against South Africa but were sloppy in the field as they squandered almost half a dozen chances. Can they win against New Zealand, so far unbeaten in this contest, with such below-par fielding display?

“I know we can beat New Zealand,” Arthur said after Sunday’s match. “It’s amazing what a difference a week makes. Our boys hurt this week, all of us hurt, incredibly. Guys didn’t sleep much, but they came to the training every day and put in, in order to try and turn it around, and today we got some just reward.

“We are alive and kicking, without a doubt, and we play our best game, we beat anybody. Whether that’s New Zealand, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, our remaining games, or England, we showed. We put our three disciplines together, we are as good as any team in this competition,” he told reporters.

Recalled batsman Harris Sohail played the lead role in Pakistan’s victory against South Africa. Arthur was all praise for the 30-year-old who hit a match-winning 89 from just 59 balls.

“Harry played beautifully, and I think I’ve spoken about it before, I think he’s certainly in our top three batsmen, and he had a particularly good lead-up. He got two hundreds against Australia, albeit in different conditions, but he played exceptionally well.

“The Haris Sohail we got today was the Haris Sohail that played incredibly well and I couldn’t be happier. The Haris that got left out has worked unbelievably hard at his game. He has worked unbelievably hard on his fielding and he has worked unbelievably hard on his fitness, and today he got some just reward for that.

“He was outstanding, and I like seeing players come back like that. You know, that is what we want to try and produce. We don’t want comfort zones in any international cricket team. You can’t have comfort zones. Guys must know every time they come out — we talk a lot on our team about wing performances.

“So it’s not about the 50 or the 80 that personally looks a good performance, but we don’t win games. We are looking for guys that give us match-winning performances. Haris’s 80 today was as good a match-winning performance as you’ll ever see.”

Arthur also heaped praise on Mohammad Amir, who has by far been Pakistan’s best performer in this tournament.

“I’ve always said that Amir is a very smart bowler,” he said. “He backs his skills and his skills are excellent. “He works incredibly hard but now he has that pace back and is bowling with a confidence he didn’t have before.

“His confidence waned and waned and waned but now he’s got spring back in his step, he’s swinging the ball again and bowling with extra pace. “You can see the glint in his eye – which is a really good sign. That’s just confidence.

“Our guys need to be built up all the time – when they’re bashed, they don’t respond in a kind way, so hopefully his performance vindicated the talent out there.” At one point in time during the post match conference, Arthur was baffled when asked whether Haris had some fitness issues during his match-winning knock.

“He got 80 from 59 balls today. Is that right, or did I miss something? Why are you always talking negatively about our players? That, today, was one of the all-time brilliant innings’ that I’ve seen. Let’s just write something positive for a change, please.”

Arthur’s Pakistan was severely criticised and often abused following the team’s defeat against India. The coach believes his charges doesn’t deserve to be ill treated. “They are incredible human beings, first and foremost. They try 100 per cent every time we go down to a training. They are incredibly passionate about the country they represent, and they are incredibly passionate about their cricket.”

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