Mickey Arthur seeks divine intervention to save Pakistan in World Cup | Cricket news

NEW DELHI: Pakistanteam director Mickey Arthur expressed his plea for “God’s help” on Monday as the 1992 champions prepared for a last-ditch effort to secure a place in World Cup semi-finals. He also praised the game-changing opener Fakhar Zaman.
Pakistan recently revived their campaign with back-to-back wins over Bangladesh and New Zealand. Zaman, who returned from a knee injury, played a key role, scoring 81 runs and then a scintillating 126 not out from 81 balls against New Zealand.
With eight points from as many games, Pakistan not only need to beat England in their upcoming game in Kolkata on Saturday, but are also relying on New Zealand losing to Sri Lanka in Bengaluru two days earlier or hoping that the match is affected by rain.
It is worth noting that Afghanistan could also potentially overtake Pakistan, depending on the results of their last two matches.
“Who knows how we will fare in this competition,” said Arthur, who is in his second spell in charge of Pakistan after 2016-2019.
“I have a real feeling we’re going to get to the semi-finals, but we’ll see what happens. But we know it’s going to be in our hands on Saturday.”
“With a little bit of God’s help, we can get to the semi-finals, but we have to play well. I think we played a perfect game once, against Bangladesh.”
If Pakistan qualify, they are likely to face arch-rivals India in Kolkata on November 16 for a place in the final.
Arthur welcomed Zaman’s winning matches.
“Since Fakhar has come on, he has been unbelievable,” Arthur said of the 33-year-old left-hander.
“Sometimes in campaigns like this it takes something to just ignite and Fakhar certainly ignited it for us.
“We know when he’s playing well he’s special. I’ve always been a big supporter of Fakhar because I think he can change matches.”
Chasing a daunting target of 402 runs to beat New Zealand – revised to 342 in 41 overs after rain – Zaman lifted his team to 200-1 before the match was abandoned with Pakistan 21 runs short of DLS.
Zaman hit 11 sixes and eight boundaries in his 11th ODI hundred, his first in two World Cups.
“Obviously, Fakhar coming into the team breathed new life into us. It was difficult not to have him at the start. His form after coming into the competition was a bit inconsistent.”
Zaman scored just 65 runs in four Asia Cup matches and 12 against Holland in the World Cup before being benched.
He then suffered a recurrence of the knee injury that forced him to retire midway through last year’s World Twenty20 Championship in Australia.
“He (Zaman) changes games every time he bats, the longer he bats the more dominant we become,” Arthur said.
“So it’s really important for us to keep Fakhar in that form and it’s really important that he takes that form, aggression and accuracy into the game against England.”
Arthur said his team must put up their best performance against England, despite the defending champions losing six of their seven matches.
“Hopefully we save ourselves batting, bowling and fielding against England and then what will be will be.”
(With inputs from AFP)

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