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How Mickey Arthur plotted Proteas’ downfall

ICC Champions Trophy

When a team in any sport is beaten as badly as Pakistan were against India at Edgbaston last Sunday, there might be a temptation for any coach to start dishing out punishment.

Training sessions long into the night, tough running, harsh words, a combination of all of the above have been employed before.

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Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur. Photo: Richard Sellers/PA Wire

But not by Pakistan’s coach Mickey Arthur, according to the captain Sarfraz Ahmed, in explaining his team’s stunning turnaround in comfortably beating South Africa on Wednesday night.

“No shouting,” smiled Sarfraz after the game. “You know, our coaching staff was very good. You know, they are backing us after the defeat night, but they very well supported us, so that’s why we played a good game today.”

Instead, Arthur had them take things easy and talk out their problems. “I think actually we did not do fielding at all. We had rain the other day, so actually, we do nothing.

“We had a very good meeting talking all day about batting and fielding and bowling. If you play ICC Champions Trophy, a big event, make sure your fielding’s good. So credit goes to the players, who were today fielding fantastically well.

“Our players were already boosted up from yesterday. So everything’s right on things.”

In the end, that was exactly what the Pakistan coach had promised. “We’ll have a good, hard chat tonight,” was what Arthur had said after the India loss.

“And then when we leave the dressing room tonight 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, and that’s what I certainly believe our team can do.”

It turns out he was right, and emphatically so. Pakistan may, in the end, have won on DLS Method after rain came down in the evening, but they were cruising at 119/3 in a modest run chase of 220.

Of course, Pakistan have a history of turning comfortable chases into far more tense affairs. But they put itself in a position to be advantaged by the rain, given their brilliant performance after South Africa won the toss and elected to bat.

“Today I think the difference was our bowling and fielding,” said Sarfraz. “I think we have not two part-time spinners. We have two regular spinners, Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan.

“And today Shadab Khan only bowled five overs because Mohammed Hafeez and Imad Wasim bowled really well today, and they took the pressure off for us. They took three wickets early on. If you take wickets, every good team is under pressure.”

A buoyant Sarfraz also credited the Birmingham Pakistani community, who turned out in force to support their team.

“That is a feeling we miss, not playing in Pakistan. Maybe that was a difference, the crowd was supporting us and that’s why the players boosted up, today credit goes to the crowd. They support us very much us.”

Pakistan now have a break until Monday, when a clash against Sri Lanka could still see them reach a semifinal.

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