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Pakistan suffered a crushing 124 run defeat off the hands of arch-rivals India in the opener of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 which would serve as a reality check for the team for the remainder of the tournament, coach Mickey Arthur said in the post-match press conference. He said the team erred on simple things and basics of the game to lost the game on Sunday.
The massive defeat leaves Pakistan not just low on confidence but also needing two wins in remaining matches to have any chance at moving into the final-four. Playing Sri Lanka and South Africa in the final two group games, Pakistan need wins to stand in the top two places of Group B.
“We were below par,” said South African Arthur. “It’s as simple as that. And it’s a reality check of where we are in our one-day cricket at the moment.”
“The worrying thing for me – and it has been for a period of time – is we just do the basics wrong. We do the simple things wrong. We drop simple catches. We don’t run well enough between wickets. We don’t hit the keeper with our throws and we don’t understand when to bowl our variations. We bowled a really good over and then we bowled a variation with our sixth ball and that’s the ball that ended up going for a boundary. So it’s the simplicity of those things that are worrying me at the moment.”
Pakistan dropped two key catches of two important players who went on to make an impact in the game. Hasan Ali put down a sitter when Yuvraj Singh was on 8 and substitute Fakhar Zaman let go of Virat Kohli on 43. Yuvraj went on to score 52 runs and Kohli stood unbeaten at 81 after the reduced 48 overs with India scoring 319 runs.
Arthur suggested early fielding errors set the tone for a poor performance in the field – dropping catches and disappointing misfields. “We talk about setting the tone up front,” he said. “But we didn’t set tone up front. We had a couple of guys that were in the clouds at the start and that sets tone. For us to have a performance as tentative as that right from the start is a worry and the only thing I can think of is the magnitude of the occasion got to them.”
“My issue is fear. My issue is them getting out there and really looking to take the game on and just believing in themselves and believing that they can take the game on.”
If the poor effort on the field wasn’t enough to highlight Pakistan’s misery, fitness issues were brought to the fore too. Mohammad Amir left the field of play in the 44th over, his ninth over, for possible cramps on his left leg. Later, Wahab Riaz too joined the sidelines after twisting his ankle in the 46th over. The injury prevented him from bowling again or even coming out to bat in the chase. Hasan Ali also suffered an attack of cramps. All this considering it was not a hot and sunny day in Edgbaston, Birmingham, with rainy and overcast conditions.
“I don’t know why they’re cramping,” Arthur said. “That’s something that I need to take up with the medical team. Wahab was fully fit. He went through a fitness test. He was declared fully fit. He performed poorly today. But he had a role to play. And I’ll take the blame, me, I’ll take it. I selected him. I selected him because I wanted him to perform a role. He didn’t execute that role, unfortunately.”
“So sometimes it works out. Sometimes it doesn’t. We picked Shadab Khan ahead of Fahim Ashraf today. That worked really well. I thought Shadab was outstanding. So, sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.”
He asked his team not to be judged based on one day’s effort – a day to forget for batsmen, bowlers and fielders. Wahab went for 87 runs in under nine overs – record worst figures in ICC Champions Trophy 2017. No one except Azhar Ali (50) made an effort with the bat and the fielding was largely woeful. “It’s a total insult to say we’re playing even worse,” he said. “If you have a look at our records over the last year we’ve won two series. We’ve got ourselves from No. 9 to No. 8 in the rankings and our brand of cricket has changed.”
“We had a poor game today. But we’re obviously trying our best and we’re trying to change it. It’s not going to happen overnight. We’re trying every day. Every time we go down to training, we try and get the basics right. We didn’t do it today. And that’s disappointing.
“We’ll have a good, hard chat tonight. And then when we leave the dressing room it will all be done and we’ll be thinking firmly of coming back and beating South Africa. Because that’s what I think our players can do. So, we’re going to be up for the fight. I’d be really disappointed if we walked away and for the rest of the tournament sort of hit our heads because we’re better than that.”