For Pakistan, this World Cup was about two halves. The first was mostly disappointing - losing two out of three games, and one a washout. The second half, of course, was about revival - winning four out of five.
But even then, Sarfaraz Ahmed’s side failed to make it to the semifinals - falling short of New Zealand on net run-rate. However, in the group league fixture, Pakistan had comfortably beaten the Kiwis by six wickets.
And after its campaign came to an end on Friday, despite an easy win over Bangladesh, the disappointment was writ large on Pakistan coach, Mickey Arthur’s face.
The vastly experienced coach, who has been with the team for long, admitted that the International Cricket Council (ICC) should have taken head-to-head into account, rather than settling for the net run-rate.
“I would certainly have liked them to consider head to head because then tonight we’d be in the semifinal. I do think it needs a look. I certainly do,” Arthur said about New Zealand’s progress into the last-four stage.
“I think amount of wins head to head, and then if there's three teams all together, then I think net run rate can sort it out” he added.
The coach, however, agreed that the defeat against the West Indies in the tournament opener hurt Pakistan in the entire tournament.
“When you lose like we lost, it’s almost impossible to get back on net run-rate, and we saw that. So that was disappointing,” he said.
The team, however, picked up momentum.
“We beat England. And just as we got some momentum early in the competition, because we had played some good cricket before the start of the World Cup - I think the nerves got us in the West Indies game, young team. We froze in that game,” Arthur said.
“We then came back, dusted ourselves off, and beat England, then we got rained out against Sri Lanka, and we didn't play a game for nine days. We didn't train other than indoors, and we lost momentum again going into what was two very tough fixtures, Australia and India,” he said.
The wash-out against Sri Lanka too had its effects. “I am not saying by any means we would have beaten Sri Lanka, but we were right there. We were getting on really well.
"It was almost as if we had to start again, and we hit two of the semifinal teams in Australia and India. And then obviously second half of the tournament, I think, has been superb, and I think we've showcased our talent and played some very, very good cricket,” the coach said.
To qualify for the semifinals, Pakistan had to beat Bangladesh by 300-plus runs. And things looked brighter for the team after it won the toss and chose to bat.
Arthur revealed that there was a discussion to aim for a 400-plus total. “I would be lying if I said it wasn't a discussion. We did discuss it. But I think that was something that we could only assess once - we did something right. We won the toss, which was a good start. That kept us alive. And then the first 10 overs were going to be quite crucial.
"You can't just walk in there and go, I think we're going to get 400. Getting 400 is a platform. You need to get a good base, and you need to move,” he said.
But that did not happen as Pakistan could manage to score only 38 runs in the first ten overs.
“The message we got from Fakhar (Zaman) when he came back in the change room was it was slow. Balls going into the wicket were quite tough. We realised that getting - the average score, I think, is 270 over the tournament. I mean, getting 400 was a bit of a pipe dream. And then we realized we just wanted to win and we wanted to win well,” he said.
The Pakistan dressing room, the coach revealed, is “a very, very disappointed dressing room.”
“There's not high fives, and there's no congratulations going on because we haven't qualified. But the guys can leave this tournament with their heads held very high. They've worked unbelievably hard, and they've played some very fine cricket. You watch a highlight package of the World Cup, there’s going to be a lot of Pakistani players on it,” he said.
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