'Confidence crisis' behind Pakistan's problems, Arthur admits

Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur has admitted that his team is going through a "confidence crisis" that is threatening to derail his team's Asia Cup 2018 campaign.

The Men in Green, entered the tournament high on confidence and started strong with a thumping win over Hong Kong before losing way, resulting in two blowout defeats to India and a laborious victory over Afghanistan in the ongoing Afghanistan.

Arthur has put his charges' alarming dip in form down to their confidence rather than anything technical, saying: "They're suffering a confidence crisis at the moment, there's a little bit of fear of failure in the dressing room, there's a bit of a reality check for exactly where we are as a cricket team.

"In terms of the worst performance, nine wickets, it's got to be up there but we're on a journey, we'll get better and stronger than this," the coach added in quotes published on ESPNcricinfo.

"It's a confidence thing. Certainly in terms of the amount of work these guys have put in, it's second to none. These guys work every day on their catching, but the minute one goes down, it's kind of like a disease. It catches off and catches on. It takes one good catch, one good innings or a five-for to turn it around and we will get the confidence back then. We've got to trust the skills to come out in the end. We've banked the work. It's time for that to pay off."

"We've got to just ride the wave"

One of his several misfiring players is top-order batsman Fakhar Zaman, whose example Arthur put forward to make his point.

"We know cricket is a confidence game," he said. "Look at Fakhar Zaman, he's an incredible player, he's an X-factor player and we expect him to take the game on at the top of the order, but he's doubting his game a little at the moment."

Arthur believes the only solution to the problem is to keep faith with Zaman and the rest. "We've got to just ride the wave with him," he said. "If we do that, when he comes out, he'll be a better player for this. We've banked the work, the work is all done."

Wayward bowling disappoints Arthur

While batting has been an age-old headache for Pakistan, their usually dependably bowling unit's no-show is a new-found concern, which disappointed Arthur more.

"There was inconsistency in lines and lengths, and it's disappointing," the South African said. "We went into panic mode. Once they got in, we started searching for wickets. The way you get wickets is, you've got to build pressure. We didn't stay with our plans long enough.

"Our plans was to hit the hard lengths, hit top of off with our seamers, and then have the ability to put them under pressure in the middle. We've got to attack to take wickets, it didn't happen and we weren't patient enough. There were plans but they weren't executed for long enough."

"Bumrah's death-over execution exemplary"

The lifeless UAE pitches have little to offer for pacers but that disadvantage has been largely negated by Indian seamers with their ability to hit the block hole at will.

The greatest exponent of an otherwise dying skill is India's Jasprit Bumrah, for whom Arthur had nothing but praise.

"We had an optional session the other day," Arthur said. "We sat there for 20 minutes and I watched Jasprit Bumrah at the nets next to us, executing yorker after yorker after yorker, and he put that into practice here. In our review, we definitely will be showing our young bowlers his execution in the death overs, it was very good."

"Sarfraz developing into an outstanding captain"

Arthur also threw his weight behind under-fire skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, and compared him with some of the game's greats.

"He's great, his captaincy is growing," the coach said. "I've had the privilege to work with two outstanding captains (Graeme Smith and Michael Clarke), he's the third. He's a learning captain, the only one I've seen having a balance between on the field and off the field.

"Yes, we sit and debrief after every game in terms of tactics, he's developing into a very, very good captain for Pakistan without a doubt."



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