is being saved by a team director who is seeking divine intervention.
Mickey Arthur, the director of the Pakistani squad, prayed for “divine help” as the 1992 champions prepared for a final push to make it to the 2023 Cricket World Cup semifinals.
The competition for the semifinal spots has heated up. Afghanistan, Pakistan, and New Zealand are the three teams with eight points after as many games. This is going to be the final game for the three-side, with only one berth remaining in the top four. If the opposition is ahead on run-rate, even a victory might not be sufficient. Before heaping praise on “game-changing” opener Fakhar Zaman, Pakistan team director Mickey Arthur pleaded for “divine help” on Monday as the 1992 winners prepared for a final push to make it into the World Cup semi-finals. With Zaman returning from a knee injury to smash 81 and then a scorching 81-ball 126 not out against the Kiwis, Pakistan won their last two matches against Bangladesh and New Zealand to rekindle their campaign.
Pakistan, who have eight points from as many games, will need to win their final game against England on Saturday in Kolkata. They also need to hope that New Zealand loses against Sri Lanka two days earlier in Bengaluru or that the match is called off.
Afghanistan may potentially defeat Pakistan, contingent on the outcome of the previous game.
“It’s hard to predict how we will perform in this competition,” remarked Arthur, who took over as Pakistan’s manager for a second time between 2016 and 2019.
“I really think we’re going to make it to the semifinals, but we’ll have to wait and see. We do know that by Saturday, it will be in our possession.
“We can get to the semifinals with a little bit of divine assistance, but we need to perform well. I believe we once played the ideal game, and it was against Bangladesh.”
If Pakistan manages to qualify, they would probably set up a tantalising matchup with bitter rivals India in Kolkata on November 16 in order to go to the championship game.
Zaman’s game-winning performances were praised by Arthur.
Arthur praised the 33-year-old left-hander, saying, “Since he has come in, he has just been unbelievable.”
It sometimes takes something to just light the spark in efforts like this, and Fakhar definitely did that for us.
“When he performs well, we know he is extraordinary. I’ve always thought Fakhar has the ability to impact games, therefore I’m a huge fan.”
In an attempt to defeat New Zealand, which had been lowered from a difficult 402-run target to 342 in 41 overs due to rain, Zaman got his team up to 200-1 before the match was abandoned with Pakistan 21 runs ahead of the DLS system.
In his 11th ODI hundred, Zaman struck eight boundaries and eleven sixes—his first century in two World Cups.
It goes without saying that Fakhar entering the side gave us new life. It was difficult at first to be without him. His performance was a touch inconsistent going into the tournament.”
Before being benched, Zaman scored just 65 runs in four Asia Cup games and 12 World Cup matches against the Netherlands.
Then, in the middle of the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia last year, he suffered a recurrence of a knee ailment that prompted him to retire.
“He (Zaman) changes games whenever he bats, the longer he bats the more dominant we become,” Arthur added.
“So, it is really important for us that we keep Fakhar in this type of form and it’s really important that he takes this form and aggression and precision with his batting into the game against England.”
Although England has lost six of their last seven games, Arthur insisted that his squad must play at its highest level against the English.
“Let’s hope we are saving ourselves for a batting, bowling and fielding performance against England and then what will be, will be.”