Friday Jan 13, 2017
BRISBANE: Pakistan cricket team coach Mickey Arthur has described his side's sluggish run chase against Australia in Brisbane as "old-style cricket" that "doesn't really have a future" in the one-day game.
Arthur conceded he's unsure who will captain the side in Melbourne on Sunday if regular skipper Azhar Ali is ruled out with a hamstring injury.
Pakistan lost the toss at the Gabba in the opening match of the five-match series and did well to restrict the home side to a total of 9-268, but their batsmen laboured in the chase and were eventually bowled out for 176 in the 43rd over, an economy rate of just 4.12 runs an over.
Number four Babar Azam top scored with just 33 and not one Pakistan batsman finished their innings with a strike rate of 85 or higher.
In contrast, five Australian batsmen finished with a strike rate of 100 or higher, including top-scorers Matthew Wade (100no from 100 balls), Glenn Maxwell (60 from 56 balls) and Travis Head (39 from 39 balls).
The tourists had exceeded 300 in three of their past four matches in one-day cricket, a format they've struggled to master in recent years.
But Arthur said his side would continue to fall behind the rest of the world if they batted as slowly as they did tonight.
"I thought from the fifth ODI in England (in September) we had devised a brand that worked for us and a brand that would be sustainable for us at international level," Arthur said.
"But we went back to the old-style cricket tonight, which doesn't really have a future and it means that we don't get the scores of 300 that we need.
"One-day cricket has moved on. We saw Chris Lynn tonight come in and it looked like he was playing Twenty20 cricket again. That's where the game's going.
"Scores of 300 are the norm. Three-hundred used to be incredibly good and teams used to win more times than not, but on wickets like this teams aren't going to win. Three-hundred is a 50-50 score.
"Our strike rates aren't where they need to be to get 300.
"The players have got the ability, there's no doubt. This is an unbelievable group of players and they work so hard.
"It's just about backing themselves. It's all about getting confidence in those situations to play the cut or hit one over extra cover and try and put some pressure back on the bowler. That's a confidence thing."
While Pakistan's batsmen were the main target of Arthur's critique, he also lamented their missed opportunity with the ball.
The visitors had the world No.1 ODI team in all sorts of trouble when they were reduced to 5-78 in the 17th over, with star batsmen David Warner (5) and Steve Smith (0) dismissed in consecutive deliveries.
But a breakthrough century from Wade helped lift Australia to a competitive total, which proved to be well beyond the tourists in the chase.
"We're not going to get Warner and Smith out for five runs again," Arthur said.
"We're not going to have that opportunity again. Wadey played exceptionally well, but I still felt like we could have got them about for 220 or 230. We let that slip just a little bit."
Skipper Ali was hobbled by a hamstring problem during his innings tonight and will await the results of scans tomorrow to uncover the full extent of the injury.
Arthur conceded the opener "probably" didn't do his injury any good by returning later in the innings having retired hurt, and the coach admitted the identity of their stand-in captain is unclear.
Vice-captain Sarfraz Ahmed was forced to fly back to Pakistan this week to be with his ill mother, a few days after fast-bowler Mohammad Irfan also returned home after his mother passed away, while veteran Shoaib Malik missed tonight's match due to illness.
"Very good question," Arthur said when asked who would replace Azhar as skipper if he was ruled out of Sunday's match at the MCG.
"I don't know. That's something we'll have to work out tomorrow. I'll have a chat to the convener of selectors and we'll work something out.
"We'll have to wait on all the scans tomorrow.
"(Losing Sarfraz, Irfan and Malik) was all a bit of a calamity. But we'll pick up the pieces and see who's available for Sunday."