Mickey Arthur, the Pakistan coach, has cited one area of concern for Pakistan at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019: the lack of power-hitting.
Pakistan were blanked 5-0 against Australia in the United Arab Emirates, and despite a couple of individual performances, their batting was by and large found wanting. When batting first, they failed to press home the advantage, and when chasing, they struggled to take it down to the wire, even losing by 80 runs in the decisive third one-day international.
There were plenty of centuries – two each from Haris Sohail and Mohammad Rizwan, and one from Abid Ali – but as filled as they were with strokes, there was no muscle and power. Arthur was left longing for that.
“That’s one of our areas of concern,” said Arthur. “We have to make sure that we get our guys to bat in those positions as best as they can. That’s the reason we used Faheem Ashraf in two games. He has done hell of a work in that regard and we wanted to give him more batting time. We have worked really hard with Imad Wasim in that role.
“Hasan [Ali] can hit the ball long distances. Shadab [Khan] has worked extremely hard on that aspect of his game. Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez have worked consistently on their power-hitting. But it is an area that is a worry, and we have to work extremely hard to rectify it.”
The series was a test of Pakistan’s bench strength, and despite the loss, it did throw up some interesting talking points ahead of the World Cup, fitness being the top-most among them.
“I’ve already asked our skill coaches to give me what they think is necessary for our players. That might be working on death bowling, on variations or bowling slower balls,” he said. “Power-hitting is the one on which we need to work constantly. I’ve asked the skill coaches to give me those plans and we will start implementing in the next couple of days.
“Plus, we need our players to have optimum fitness levels. We saw the difference in the field between our normal players, the guys with whom we’ve worked for two years, and the players who have just came to our system. The gap is massive, we can’t have that happen ever again.”
Pakistan’s preparations for the World Cup aren’t done yet. They head to England later this month, where they will play a solitary Twenty20 International and five ODIs. Arthur said this would be the “best-prepared squad that’s ever left Pakistan” for the World Cup.