Mickey Arthur pins hope on ‘divine help’ for Pakistan to qualify for semi-final


Pakistan’s cricket team director Mickey Arthur speaks to journalists in Ahmedabad, India, on October 14, 2023. — Reporter/Faizan Lakhani

Pakistan team director Mickey Arthur sought “divine help” on Monday as the Green Shirts face an uphill task to qualify for the World Cup semi-finals.

Pakistan have recorded back-to-back wins over Bangladesh and New Zealand to reignite their campaign with Zaman returning from a knee injury to hit 81 and then a blistering 81-ball 126 not out against the Kiwis.

With eight points from as many games, Pakistan not only need to beat England in their last game in Kolkata on Saturday but also hope New Zealand lose to Sri Lanka in Bengaluru two days earlier or that the match is washed out.

Afghanistan can also edge out Pakistan depending on results in their two last matches.

“Who knows how we are going to go in this competition,” said Arthur, who is in his second stint in charge of Pakistan after a spell between 2016-2019.

“I have a real feeling we´re going to get to the semi-finals but let´s see what happens. What we do know is that it will in our hands come Saturday.

“With a little bit of divine help, we can get to the semi-final but we have to play well. We played the perfect game once, I think, and that was against Bangladesh.”

If Pakistan do qualify they will likely set up a mouth-watering clash with arch-rivals India in Kolkata on November 16 for a place in the final.

Arthur also hailed the match-winning displays of Fakhar Zaman.

“Since Fakhar has come in he has just been unbelievable,” said Arthur of the 33-year-old left-hander.

“Sometimes in campaigns like this it takes something to just ignite it and Fakhar certainly ignited that for us.

“We know when he plays well he is exceptional. I have always been a massive backer of Fakhar because I think he can change games.”

Chasing a daunting 402-run target to beat New Zealand — revised to 342 in 41 overs after rain — Zaman lifted his team to 200-1 before the match was halted with Pakistan 21 runs ahead of DLS system.

Zaman hit 11 sixes and eight boundaries in his 11th ODI hundred, his first in two World Cups.

“Obviously, Fakhar coming into the side breathed a new lease of life into us. It was tough not having him at the start. His form coming into the competition was a little bit patchy.”

Zaman scored just 65 runs in four Asia Cup matches and 12 against the Netherlands in the World Cup before he was benched.

He then had a recurrence of a knee injury that forced him to withdraw mid-way through last year´s Twenty20 World Cup in Australia.

“He (Zaman) changes games whenever he bats, the longer he bats the more dominant we become,” said Arthur.

“So, it is really important for us that we keep Fakhar in this type of form and it´s really important that he takes this form and aggression and precision with his batting into the game against England.”

Arthur said his team need to bring their best game against England, despite the defending champions´ having lost six of their seven matches.

“Let´s hope we are saving ourselves for a batting, bowling and fielding performance against England and then what will be, will be.”



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