CARDIFF: Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur believes Sri Lanka will be a dangerous opponent and his team needs to be at its best to beat them in their last Group B match at Cardiff on Monday.
The two South Asian rivals meet in a virtual quarter-final the winner of which will go through to the semi-finals.
Eighth ranked Pakistan upset world number one South Africa in their second group match after losing tamely to arch rivals India in the first. Sri Lanka, ranked seventh, had the better of world number three India to leave the Group wide open, with any team can finish at the top or is crashed out.
Form Arthur it would be a double clash with Sri Lankan coach Graham Ford his former South African countryman.
“Fordy and I have been very close over a long period of time so it’s taken on an old friend,” Arthur told media. “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.”
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 focused.
“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.
“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.”
Arthur said the mood in the Pakistan camp was great and the belief solid.
“The mood in the camp is excellent. If you had looked at us after India and after South Africa it was a marked transformation. We know what is at stake, it’s a huge prize for the players. So let’s hope we can put it together again.”
Arthur denied he ever shouted on players after the India defeat.
“We definitely had some good discussions. I still have the same belief that we just didn’t believe well enough against India. We went out we were definitely intimidated and that was the disappointing thing. 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. There was a freshness, the intensity was good, so we’ve got to keep taking that moving forward with it. We all talked after India, we were incredibly disappointed that isn’t the way we wanted to play out cricket.”
Arthur believes Pakistan players were threatened in the India game.
“We are very skilled. I firmly believe we didn’t believe enough. I looked around the dressing room before that game and we didn’t believe that we could beat them. Such a contrast to the South Africa game were we believed in our skills and ability.
“I’m pretty honest and straightforward. We have 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. ”
Arthur praised medium pacer Hasan Ali for his fast development, who took three wickets in the win over South Africa.
“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. 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, he can bowl. He’s in great shape so very proud of his development.
“He stands out as one of the beacons. In Babar Azam, Imad Wasim – we have some good young players coming through and we have to keep them believing. ”