Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur (right) with captain Sarfaraz Ahmad
Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur (right) with captain Sarfaraz Ahmad during nets at Old Trafford, Manchester. Image Credit: Reuters

London: Whether Pakistan win or lose, a debate is always stirred up post match. Journalists, especially from Pakistan, never hold back from asking hard-hitting questions. Be it Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmad or coach Mickey Arthur, they are often asked to explain in detail the state of the team.

So after Pakistan’s win over South Africa, the first question posed during the post-match press conference was: “The team’s batting has improved, so has the bowling. But how about the dropped catches? Why were there so many dropped catches?”

Pakistan had dropped close to six catches in the 49-run win over South Africa on Sunday.

Coach Arthur’s response was: “That’s the million dollar question. We train hard and we’ve put in massive amounts of work. But that’s something we’ll be exploring again in the next couple of days because we can’t be dropping that many catches and expect to beat teams getting into almost a knockout phase for us. We’re going to have to keep working at it.”

While in the last match questions were raised on the inclusion of out-of-form Shoaib Malik in the team, after the victory over the Proteas, there were questions over why he wasn’t selected.

“We went with Shoaib for three games and gave him a good extended run,” replied Arthur. “We had hoped that with his experience he would really burn it out and end his ODI career in a very, very special way. Unfortunately, it didn’t pan out for him, but he certainly tried. He’s put in tremendous amounts of work, and we banked on having some experience at six. But today we shuffled it around and I thought we got quite a nice balance.”

When a question on whether Haris Sohail, who top scored for Pakistan, had got tired after batting for 60 to 70 minutes, Arthur’s patience began to wear thin, responding by asking why one does not see the positive side. “I thought you were saying something positive about Haris,” he said. “He got 80 from 59 balls today. Is that right, or did I miss something? Why are you always talking negatively about our players? His innings today was one of the all-time brilliant innings that I’ve seen. Let’s just write something positive for a change, please.”

Soon he was asked where he sees the Pakistan team in the World Cup. The coach seemed very confident when he said: “We are very firmly positioned in the World Cup. We win our next three games and we’ll qualify.”

Despite Babar Azam playing a fine knock, why was he, whom the coach had compared to Virat Kohli, not able to covert his fifties into a hundred? Arthur showed his trust in him saying: “Look, Babar is an unbelievable player and he will just get better and better. I think his game over the last year has improved considerably. He’s going to be right up there as one of Pakistan’s great batsmen. Today he tried to force the pace just a little bit when it was probably needed and got out. There’s going to be other days where he follows through and makes it happen.”