CARDIFF: Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur urged his team to be at their best to beat the in-form England in the first semi-final of the Champions Trophy at Cardiff on Wednesday, realizing the fact that the title favourites hosts are on a roll.
England have been the only unbeaten side in the tournament with victories of eight wickets over Bangladesh, 87-run win against New Zealand and a 40-run triumph over world champions Australia.
They have won 11 of their last 12 one-day internationals, a record Arthur is wary of.
“We know that realistically England are playing unbelievably well,” said Arthur on Tuesday.
“They’re a really, really good one-day unit with no apparent weaknesses. So we stressed yesterday — at the end of the game when we sat down and had a quick debrief, we stressed that we need to play our best game, and if we play our best game, we can put them under pressure at different points of the game, and then it’s just taking those points, taking those moments, and running with them, like we did this time last year here exactly in Cardiff.”
Pakistan have been scrappy, having lost by 124 runs to India but bouncing back with 19-run win over South Africa on D-L method and then achieving a three-wicket win over Sri Lanka in a tense finish.
“So hopefully, hopefully we can put our best game together tomorrow, and then who knows?”
Arthur believed Pakistan were learning how to chase in ODIs.
“Yeah, so sometimes that’s our strength, that’s our unpredictability. Look, we give the guys clear roles, and the guys know what they need to do. It’s just we do sometimes make it difficult for ourselves. We were probably a little bit soft at times yesterday.
“But the guys are working extremely hard. We’re evolving as a team. As we’ve said consistently, we’re coming from a base of number 8 in the world. So we’re trying to keep evolving. And wins like we have — like we did yesterday, when you win ugly, you learn a lot about the team. So I guess it gives a lot of confidence. Yeah, a lot of confidence going forward for the players really.”
Arthur praised new opener Fakhar Zaman who hit 31 in his debut game against South Africa and knocked a 36-ball 50 against Sri Lanka.
“He’s been fantastic. I guess it’s a breath of fresh air when you see a young player come into the side and take the game on. And the good thing for us is the young players that have come into the side have all come in with a really good spirit. They’ve played well, you know.
“You look at Fakhar, you look at Fahim, Shadab to a point, Babar, when he came in, Hassan Ali when he came in. So the young guys coming in have taken it as a duck to water, which has been great. They’ve come in with a great attitude. They want to learn. They want to work hard, and we’re getting some results out of them, which is fantastic news.”
Arthur admitted Pakistan’s middle order is a worry.
“Look, middle order has been exposed just a little bit. Ideally, we’d like to probably get Sarfraz and Malik maybe in a little bit earlier, but that’s something that we need to discuss. Whether it happens now or whether it happens at the end of this competition will be debated later.”