Pakistan eye South Africa scalp to stay in contention

By our correspondent
LAHORE: With their backs against the wall Pakistan are eager to roar back into the competition when they play South Africa in their sixth match of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 in Chennai on Friday. The team had a terrific start to their campaign with wins over the Netherlands and Sri Lanka in Hyderabad but after that they lost their three successive matches.
Resilience and ability to turn the most adverse situations in their favour are the traits that define this Pakistan side. They pulled off an epic turnaround in Australia last year to play the final of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup and scripted a fairy-tale by winning the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 in England despite starting the campaign on the wrong foot.

Mickey Arthur, the team director, is hopeful that Pakistan’s campaign will take another such turn on Friday. “We said in the change room the other night that we have got six matches to win the World Cup,” Arthur said.
“We have to get on a streak and win six in a row. We know that as a unit, we know that as a team, we have to make sure we get our strategy 100%. We have to make sure that we get our execution 100% and if we do that, there is no reason why we cannot [win the World Cup].”

Pakistan faced a shock defeat to Afghanistan on Monday at MA Chidambaram Stadium. This loss followed defeats to India and Australia in Ahmedabad and Bengaluru, respectively. There have been, however, some glimpses of brilliance and to make sure that Pakistan consolidate their qualification chances to the semi-final, Arthur believes that they will have to click in all three facets of the game.

“I don’t think our skills have been where they’ve needed to be in those last three games, but these players have got the skills. It is up to us as coaches to make sure that we get them firing come Friday by giving them the confidence and the belief that they can turn this around,” Arthur said.

“We have not put a game together yet. We have not played the complete game. It is up to us to delve, to dig, to give advice, to give information and to give the belief that we can put that perfect game together because we know our perfect game is good enough. Our perfect game is good enough to beat anybody.

“We have to find it because there is a massive ambition within the playing group. The boys are trying out hard in the practice and I cannot fault their effort. I cannot fault attitude. What I can fault is the execution of skills under pressure, and that’s something that we continually work on at practice.”

South Africa are in good form entering the competition with four solid wins in five matches. Can Pakistan surmount the South Africa challenge? “They are a very good cricket team and they’re full of confidence because they have played well. I know though that if we do our basics and disciplines right, our skills will come out and we can beat anybody.”
Meanwhile a team source told this correspondet that the players body language is positive.
“Yes the body language of the players is positive and what we need is a victory against South Africa which can once again revive our hopes of making it to the top four,” the source said.

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