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Sarfraz, Arthur critical of Pakistan’s dismal show

Updated September 21, 2018

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DUBAI: Both Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed and head coach Mickey Arthur minced no words in saying the demoralising eight-wicket defeat to arch-rivals India in the Asia Cup pool match on Wednesday was a big lesson and wake-up call ahead of the Super Four.

India completely outclassed Pakistan to secure their most comprehensive victory against the green shirts in terms of balls remaining — 126 — as effortlessly knocked off the target in just 29 overs after bowling out Pakistan for a measly 162 in the Group ‘A’ clash.

“We had prepared for the two spinners but the third one chipped in with wickets to put us in big, big trouble,” Sarfraz remarked at the post-match presentation. “The start was not at all good. We lost two wickets in the first five overs, and although we got some momentum in the middle [overs] but again lost wickets and could not recover.

“To be honest we batted poorly as a unit and all of us played poor shots to get out. But It is good to get a wake-up call early on in the tournament, Surely we would not want to commit the same mistakes and come back better prepared next time,” he added.

Arthur, meanwhile, was certainly not impressed the way Pakistan players batted and asked his main batsmen to take more responsibility.

“[For] Imam-ul-Haq, it’s not his role to be running down the ground to Bhuvneshwar [Kumar] in the third over. It’s not Sarfraz’s role to be hitting over the top and getting caught out there so early in the innings,” the South African remarked. “We’ve got X-factor guys whose role it is to do that. If Fakhar [Zaman] gets out playing that way, it’s okay. If Asif Ali gets out like that it’s okay, because that’s his role. But the other four batsmen certainly need to take responsibility.”

Arthur contended the pressure of not scoring upfront got to Imam, who he said is calm sort of a batsman.

“I think [it was] the pressure that told on Imam. As I said, out of his role, he had two runs off eight balls or whatever, but Fakhar had just faced a maiden. So he tried to have a go, he tried to hit the ball that’s not in his area. If he comes down, he’s going to be going extra cover, not mid-wicket, so yes I do think there was a little bit of pressure,” he said. “I just thought we were soft — 158 dot balls out of 258 played [160 dots out of 259 played], is not good enough,” Arthur pointed out.

“It was just about taking responsibility and we sort of batted outside our roles, which, was very disappointing.”

Arthur further said his bowlers went outside their plans far too quickly after failing to strike early defending a low total.

“On a wicket like that, you need to strike really early if you’re going to defend it. We didn’t strike early enough. But, saying that, we went away from our plans too quickly. We said that our batters batted outside our roles and that wasn’t acceptable,” he said. “With our bowling, we went outside our plans far too quickly. We wanted to bowl hard lengths, hit the top of off stump. It was tough to score then.

“I think there was a bit of panic when they didn’t strike early. We panicked and went away from our plans. The first six overs, they went at two-and-a-half. And then [Usman Khan] Shinwari decided to come around the wicket and bowl a bouncer with his fine leg up. And from there it just tumbled. We’re going to sit down and talk about that. It’s not good enough. Not acceptable in my books,” the Pakistan fumed.

Pakistan and India square off again when they now meet in the Super Four fixture here on Sunday, while Bangladesh and Afghanistan play on the same day in Abu Dhabi.

Super Four schedule (all matches start at 4:30pm PST):

Friday, Sept 21: Pakistan vs Afghanistan (Abu Dhabi); India vs Bangladesh (Dubai)

Sunday, Sept 23: Pakistan vs India (Dubai); Bangladesh vs Afghanistan (Abu Dhabi).

Tuesday, Sept 25: India vs Afghanistan (Dubai).

Wednesday, Sept 26: Pakistan vs Bangladesh (Abu Dhabi).

Friday, Sept 28: Final (Dubai)

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2018