Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur with team members during a practice session at ICC Academy. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur came down heavily on his team’s performance and hailed India’s clinical show after his team lost their prestige battle in the Unimoni Asia Cup on Sunday.

“India have very good players. If we give them an inch, they are going to make us pay and they did that,” said Arthur, who candidly admitted that his team is having a problem of lack of confidence.

“They’re suffering a confidence crisis at the moment, there’s a little bit of fear of failure. In the dressing room, there’s a bit of a reality check for where exactly we are as a cricket team. In terms of the worst performance, nine wickets, it’s got to be up there but we’re on a journey, we’ll get better and stronger than this,” he added.

Pakistan are happy they still have a chance to reach the final and avenge their two successive defeats to India. They take on Bangladesh at the Abu Dhabi Zayed Cricket Stadium on Wednesday in what will be a virtual semi-final of the tournament.

Arthur believes that the defeats were not because his players did not work hard but a mere lack of confidence.

“It’s a confidence thing. Certainly in terms of the amount of work these guys have put in, it’s second to none. These guys work every day on their catching, but the minute one goes down, it’s kind of like a disease. It catches off and catches on. It takes one good catch, one good innings or a five-for to turn it around and we will get the confidence back then. We’ve got to trust the skills to come out in the end. We’ve banked the work. It’s time for that to pay off.”

Explaining the importance of confidence levels, Arthur said: “We know cricket is a confidence game. Look at Fakhar Zaman, he’s an incredible player, he’s an X-factor player and we expect him to take the game on at the top of the order, but he’s doubting his game a little at the moment. We’ve got to just ride the wave with him. If we do that, when he comes out, he’ll be a better player for this. We’ve banked the work, the work is all done.”

Arthur said his team had watched India’s Jasprit Bumrah, who executed what he practised before the match. We had an optional session the other day. We sat there for 20 minutes and I watched Bumrah at the nets bowling next to us, executing yorker after yorker after yorker, and he put that into practice here. In our review, we definitely will be showing our young bowlers his execution in the death overs, it was very good.”

Arthur does not believe that batting first after winning the toss was a mistake. “I have heard from outside how we should’ve bowled first here, bat first there, but honestly, we look at how best we can win. We believe if we can get runs on the board and strike with the new ball, we can put India under pressure. We don’t want to expose our middle order against their spinners in a run chase, it’s going to just get bigger and bigger and our batsmen are going to get under pressure even more.”

Arthur does not believe that Indians are unbeatable. “I believe in our players. I think they are a fantastic bunch,” he said, even hailed his captain Sarfraz Ahmad. “He’s great, his captaincy is growing. I’ve had the privilege to work with two outstanding captains (Graeme Smith and Michael Clarke), he’s the third. He’s a learning captain, the only one I’ve seen having a balance between on the field and off the field. Yes, we sit and debrief after every game in terms of tactics, he’s developing into a very, very good captain for Pakistan without a doubt.”

Catch the match:  India vs Afghanistan (Super Four)
- Venue: Dubai International Cricket Stadium,
- Match starts at 3.30pm
- Live telecast on OSN Sports