Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 15 October 2019

Cricket World Cup 2019: Pakistan's chance to cement legacy by beating India, says Mickey Arthur

Pakistan coach says players have great opportunity to win first ever cup game against rivals and be 'remembered forever'

Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur, right, says he has best prepared Sarfaraz Ahmed, left, and his teammates for Sunday's match. Lee Smith / Reuters
Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur, right, says he has best prepared Sarfaraz Ahmed, left, and his teammates for Sunday's match. Lee Smith / Reuters

Pakistan’s players have the chance to be “remembered forever” by becoming the first from that country to beat India in a Cricket World Cup fixture.

That is the message from Mickey Arthur, the Pakistan coach, who is imploring his players to make themselves heroes when they face their neighbours in the most-anticipated fixture of the competition so far, at Old Trafford on Sunday.

“I don't want to say it's the biggest rivalry in sport, but I saw some stats which said the soccer World Cup final attracted 1.6 billion viewers,” Arthur said. “Tomorrow is likely to get 1.5 billion. It doesn't get bigger than that.

“It doesn't get more exciting. I'm telling our players in the dressing room, you could be a hero tomorrow.

“Your careers are going to be defined by a moment in the game. You do something incredible tomorrow, you'll be remembered forever.”

Fixtures between India and Pakistan used to be frequent, not least in the UAE.

Pakistan have a winning record in one-day international cricket against their great rivals, having won 73 to the 54 of India throughout history. They have not won any of their six meetings in World Cups, though.

These fixtures are precious these days, given their rarity. The sides have met just four times since the last World Cup – and all in multi-nation tournaments.

India have won three, and each by a substantial margin – 124 runs at Edgbaston in the 2017 Champions Trophy, as well as eight then nine wickets at last year’s Asia Cup in Dubai.

But Pakistan did win the one that mattered most, in the Champions Trophy final at The Oval two years ago.

Fakhar Zaman wrote his name in Pakistan cricket lore that day by scoring the century that set up the title win, and Arthur says the stage is open for players to do the same again this time around.

“Our kind of mantra is, ‘How do you want to be remembered?’,” Arthur said.

“We've got 15 incredible cricketers in that dressing room, and we keep stressing to them, ‘How do you want to be remembered? You're the class of 2019. What are they going to say about you in history?’

“It presents an unbelievable opportunity for these guys to really make a mark.”

The fevered anticipation ahead of the match might be offset somewhat by the weather in Manchester.

The outfield was covered in puddles for much of Saturday, while weather.com is forecasting a 70 per cent chance of rain during the match hours on Sunday, with a top temperature of 18 degrees.

It feels like the weather can be predicted with a greater degree of certainty than the form of Pakistan – much to the chagrin of their coach.

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“I like to think we've become a lot more structured as a team,” Arthur said, of his side’s inconsistent form at the World Cup.

“I think there's been a lot more role clarity given to players, and hopefully that bridges the gap between being consistent and being inconsistent.

“I certainly think our gap between being very, very good and very bad is a lot closer, and I do think that we're playing a game now that is a little bit more consistent. I really do believe that.

“But that unpredictability tag always sort of hangs around the Pakistan team, and that makes us very exciting.

“It makes us very exciting as well. I don't particularly like it when the commentators say, 'Oh, it depends which Pakistan team turns up.'

"Because, as coach, we prepare those guys exceptionally well every time to make sure that, when they go on the field, they're ready to deliver and ready to fire.”

Updated: June 15, 2019 07:34 PM

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