Pakistan’s second straight fifth-place finish at the World Cup will be a bitter pill to swallow for the country’s cricketing faithful. But coach Mickey Arthur seems to have already digested it.
“I really believe the best four teams in the competition are now playing the semifinals,” he said after the loss to England here on Saturday. “Fifth is where we deserve to finish with the cricket that we’ve played over the last six weeks.“
Arthur stated that the loss of pacer Naseem Shah ahead of the marquee tournament hurt the team. “Our bowling equilibrium was out of kilter because Naseem Shah provides the consistency. It allows Shaheen Shah [Afridi] to attack, and then the leg-spinner and then Haris Rauf.
“Rauf doesn’t normally bowl with the new ball. We’ve been working hard with him, but he bowled okay in patches.“
The South African also opined that Pakistan had to put up big scores consistently. “We have to become a 330-350 team. Those who are doing that consistently are in the semifinals. We do that when Fakhar Zaman comes off. We can’t just be relying on one player.“
The Pakistan-England fixture also saw a bitter-sweet ending to English speedster David Willey’s international career. The left-arm seamer had announced his retirement last week after being denied a central contract, but capped his 73-match ODI journey by picking his 100th wicket at the Eden Gardens.
“It was mixed emotions,” the 33-year-old said. “My situation with England has always been on the fringe. I’m next in if there’s an injury, very much a squad player. And I’ve been at peace with that. It’s not easy, never knowing where you stand from tour to tour.
“So, to just be able to enjoy my last game for England was lovely. The boys have been great. It was special to walk out [on to the field] first. They are memories I’ll cherish forever.”
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