Think there was a little bit of pressure on Imam: Mickey Arthur

It was Pakistan opener Imam-ul-Haq's turn on Wednesday as the opener set the tone for the day that resulted in India dominating the match throughout.

Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur had no hesitation in admitting Imam wilted under the pressure.   -  Getty Images

If you take the stage of a tournament in consideration, seldom will you see games more inconsequential than the last two group games of the Asia Cup. However, when one of those two is an India-Pakistan encounter, such a game can never really be inconsequential.

After all, the match between the warring neighbouring countries has ramifications well beyond a cricket field. As a result, it doesn't surprise a sports fanatic when youngsters from either team fail to withstand the pressure of the big stage. It was Pakistan opener Imam-ul-Haq's turn on Wednesday as the opener set the tone for the day that resulted in India dominating the match throughout.

Having been handed the responsibility of anchoring the innings, left-handed Imam stepped out to accurate Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the third over and attempted a swat across the line to gift his wicket, which started Pakistan's fall after electing to bat on a flat pitch. Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur had no hesitation in admitting Imam wilted under the pressure.

“I think that's right. I think the pressure told on Imam. As I said, out of his role, he had two off eight balls or whatever (two off 7), but Fakhar (Zaman) 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,” Arthur said.

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Arthur also made no bones in stating that strike bowler Mohammad Amir's lack of wicket-taking form is a concern. Amir has managed to pick just three wickets in his nine ODIs since the Champions Trophy final in June 2017, where he demolished India with a three-wicket spell up front.

“Of course, there is. I'd be lying if I sat here and said there wasn't. I had a really good, long hard chat with him last night and I thought he came out and bowled really well today. He hit the crease really hard. He ran in well,” he said.

“He's been stopping, he's been decelerating to the crease, but he didn't do that today. Today, he seemed more fluent, there was a little bit more pace there. And, I was comfortable, he bowled well tonight. There is pressure on him, of course, there is.”

As Pakistan rested before starting its Super Four campaign on Friday against Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi, Arthur would be hoping that his wards won't repeat the same mistakes, neither against Afghans, nor versus India again on Sunday.