Arthur calls on beaten Pak­istan to toughen up for Tests

Oman Daily Observer - - CRICKET -

ABU DHABI: Dis­grun­tled coach Mickey Arthur de­manded his play­ers toughen up and seize key mo­ments in Test matches af­ter sloppy bat­ting handed New Zealand an away se­ries win over Pak­istan for the first time in 49 years.

New Zealand pulled off a come­from-be­hind 123-run vic­tory in the third and fi­nal Test in Abu Dhabi on Fri­day to end their long wait for a 2-1 se­ries win.

Pak­istan had dis­missed the Kiwis for 153 in the first in­nings of the first Test in Abu Dhabi only to lose by a nar­row four-run mar­gin.

Pak­istan bounced back by win­ning the sec­ond Test in Dubai by an in­nings and four runs but again failed to build a size­able lead in the first in­nings of the third Test, a fact Arthur be­lieves cost them the se­ries.

“We missed op­por­tu­ni­ties and de­spite win­ning most of the ses­sions in the two losses we could not grab the mo­ments to force a win,” Pak­istan coach Arthur said.

“It was our se­ries to win but we ended up as the los­ing side and that’s highly dis­ap­point­ing.” Arthur said Pak­istan not gain­ing big leads in the first and third Tests was cru­cial.

“We have to have a look at our bat­ting on the last day and that is tough in the UAE,” said Arthur.

Pak­istan lost all ten wick­ets on the fi­nal day in both the de­feats. They have now lost all ten wick­ets on the fi­nal day six times since Arthur joined in May 2016. Apart from the three oc­ca­sions in Abu Dhabi — against Sri Lanka last year and twice against New Zealand in this se­ries — they also col­lapsed at Birm­ing­ham, Hamil­ton and Mel­bourne — all in 2016.

Arthur said he backs his play­ers, es­pe­cially un­der-fire se­nior bats­men Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq.

“The qual­ity is there as they are the best play­ers in Pak­istan who are work­ing very very hard and I back them to the hilt,” said Arthur.

“But we need to be tougher in the cru­cial mo­ments and that comes to us grab­bing mo­ments and be­ing tough and we could not do this in this se­ries which is dis­ap­point­ing.”

He added: “I will de­fend Asad and Azhar to the hilt. Asad is a won­der­ful player. I rate him very highly and I still feel his best days are ahead of him.”

Arthur now hopes Pak­istan can do well in South Africa, a coun­try where they have won only two Tests and were thrashed 3-0 on their last tour in 2013.

“I reckon we can go to South Africa and do well,” said Arthur.

“I be­lieve and trust in these play­ers, we have got some very tal­ented crick­eters and some good young play­ers. We need to nail down our good po­si­tions which we are not do­ing and that’s the prob­lem area.”

The first of three Tests starts in Cen­tu­rion from De­cem­ber 26.

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