Pakistan are rising the proverbial phoenix, at least that’s what their coach Mickey Arthur believes after his embattled team thrashed South Africa by 49 runs in a must-win World Cup match at Lord’s on Sunday.
Arthur, who jokingly said that he thought about committing suicide after Pakistan’s humiliating defeat against India at Old Trafford, announced on Sunday that his team was strong enough to beat any side in this World Cup.
Pakistan have to win their next three World Cup games against New Zealand, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to have any hopes of qualifying for the last four.
They were impressive in Sunday’s win against South Africa but were sloppy in the field as they squandered almost half a dozen chances. Can they win against New Zealand, so far unbeaten in this contest, with such below-par fielding display?
“I know we can beat New Zealand,” Arthur said after Sunday’s match. “It’s amazing what a difference a week makes. Our boys hurt this week, all of us hurt, incredibly. Guys didn’t sleep much, but they came to the training every day and put in, in order to try and turn it around, and today we got some just reward.
“We are alive and kicking, without a doubt, and we play our best game, we beat anybody. Whether that’s New Zealand, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, our remaining games, or England, we showed. We put our three disciplines together, we are as good as any team in this competition,” he told reporters.
Recalled batsman Harris Sohail played the lead role in Pakistan’s victory against South Africa. Arthur was all praise for the 30-year-old who hit a match-winning 89 from just 59 balls.
“Harry played beautifully, and I think I’ve spoken about it before, I think he’s certainly in our top three batsmen, and he had a particularly good lead-up. He got two hundreds against Australia, albeit in different conditions, but he played exceptionally well.
“The Haris Sohail we got today was the Haris Sohail that played incredibly well and I couldn’t be happier. The Haris that got left out has worked unbelievably hard at his game. He has worked unbelievably hard on his fielding and he has worked unbelievably hard on his fitness, and today he got some just reward for that.
“He was outstanding, and I like seeing players come back like that. You know, that is what we want to try and produce. We don’t want comfort zones in any international cricket team. You can’t have comfort zones. Guys must know every time they come out — we talk a lot on our team about wing performances.
“So it’s not about the 50 or the 80 that personally looks a good performance, but we don’t win games. We are looking for guys that give us match-winning performances. Haris’s 80 today was as good a match-winning performance as you’ll ever see.”