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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 April 2019

Disappointed Mickey Arthur focused on 'the bigger picture' after Pakistan's ODI series defeat to Australia

Pakistan coach defends decision to rest six senior players for five-match series in UAE keeping World Cup in mind

Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur was naturally disappointed following their ODI series rout at the hands of Australia. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur was naturally disappointed following their ODI series rout at the hands of Australia. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Mickey Arthur defended the controversial decision to rest all of Pakistan’s senior players, after seeing them slump to a 5-0 series defeat against Australia.

The Australians set the seal on a cleansweep when they won the fifth one-day international by 20 runs at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday night.

Coach Arthur conceded Pakistan's morale had been dented by the series defeat, but claimed it was vital the absent first-choice players be given rest ahead of the World Cup later this summer.

Six players, including captain Sarfraz Ahmed, were not selected for the series. One more, Faheem Ashraf, was sent home to rest midway through, while Shoaib Malik also missed the last two matches with a rib injury.

“In terms of morale, yes, we are all incredibly disappointed, because we are an incredibly proud cricket nation, and we represent 210 million people,” Arthur said.

“But I think there is a bigger picture. The bigger picture is we have a World Cup to win. We have to be playing in that World Cup final on July 14.

“What was the best way to get there? Our best way to get there was to have our major players, who are going to have a significant impact in that World Cup, rested, so that we have them fitter, faster, stronger come the start of the World Cup.”

Arthur pointed out that his side have been travelling for much of the time since the Asia Cup started in the UAE in September.

“We got on the road on September 12, with the Asia Cup,” Arthur said.

“We went all the way through to [the tour of] South Africa with four days’ break. We then finished the South Africa series, flew straight from there to the [Pakistan Super League].

"We finished the PSL, then two days later came here. So there was no gap to rest those players.”

Aaron Finch has led Australia to back-to-back ODI series victories in India and the UAE. Francois Nel / Getty Images
Aaron Finch has led Australia to back-to-back ODI series victories in India and the UAE. Francois Nel / Getty Images

The resounding win marked a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for Australia. The last time they were in the UAE, their cricket appeared to be in crisis.

Now, following on from a series win in India, they are on a streak of eight consecutive ODI wins.

With the likes of David Warner, Steve Smith and Mitchell Starc still to return, Aaron Finch, the captain, believes they are in a strong position ahead of the World Cup.

“If you think back six months ago, a lot of people were slamming us,” said Finch, whose own form has mirrored the upswing, as he made 451 runs at an average of 112.75 in the five ODIs.

“A lot of people were writing us off, not just for one-day cricket, but for all forms of cricket.

“It has been a really positive last couple of months. We have been building really nicely.”

Updated: April 1, 2019 10:57 AM

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