We didn’t believe that we could beat India — Arthur

Mickey Arthur

After a sloppy show against India in their opening game of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 where Pakistan suffered a humiliating 124-run defeat at the hands of arch-rivals India , there’s now a far more enthusiasm and self-belief in the Pakistan camp post their triumph against the World No.1 South Africa that kept their Champions Trophy campaign alive this week at Edgbaston.

Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur, who had spoken about the fear that inhibited Pakistan’s players after their dismal show against India, has said that he still believes that his team were “intimidated” by India before the much-anticipated clash.

“I looked around the dressing room before that [India] game and we didn’t believe that we could beat them,” Arthur said. “It was such a contrast to the South Africa game were we believed in our skills and ability.

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“I’m pretty honest and straightforward. We had some honest conversations and the good thing about it is that the players are contributing to that conversation now whereas a year ago they didn’t. They are starting to take responsibility and once that happens it’s a massive psychological barrier they have broken down in the dressing room. I come out of an environment where you have mature conversations all the time and they can’t be sugar-coated, they have to happen for you to move forward. The guys responded fantastically well.”

Pakistan put up a complete performance against South Africa — with Imad Wasim dismissing AB de Villiers for the first golden duck of his ODI career and Hasan Ali bowling, perhaps, the ball of the tournament to dismiss Wayne Parnell. Between them, Imad and Hasan claimed combined figures of 5-44 off 16 overs. They also did enough with the bat to ward off a collapse and stay ahead of the DLS equation to claim a 19-run victory after the rain called it a day, a win which has given great satisfaction to Arthur and will be a very handy stepping stone in the long-term task of building of Pakistan’s ODI team.

“To see them perform is the best thing that can happen to any coach,” he said. “Hasan Ali is one of those. 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, he can bowl. He’s in great shape so I’m 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.”

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Pakistan are now almost certain for an automatic World Cup spot, with Afghanistan’s victory against West Indies courtesy Rashid Khan’s 7 for 18 further boosting their chances.

“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 away, Australia away, 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,” Arthur said. “We have to keep improving all the time, playing with intensity, keep the freshness so we can put a shake on at that World Cup.

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