Pakistan urged to stay ‘ruthless’ in clash against Sri Lanka - GulfToday

Pakistan urged to stay ‘ruthless’ in clash against Sri Lanka


Lasith Malinga and Mohammad Hasnain.

Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur has urged his team to “stay ruthless” at the World Cup as they train their sights on Sri Lanka after shocking England.

The notoriously unpredictable Pakistan side held their nerve to beat the hosts by 14 runs at Trent Bridge on Monday, just three days after crashing to a seven-wicket defeat against the West Indies at the same venue.

That ended a sequence of 11 consecutive defeats in completed one-day internationals. Arthur praised his team’s resolve after a “shocking” defeat in their tournament opener.

“It was just so good to see us go out and play with the belief and intensity that we had spoken about,” Arthur told AFP.

“When we put all three disciplines together we know we can beat anybody. We now need to stay consistent and ruthless.”

Pakistan posted an impressive 348-8 against a potent England bowling attack, with fifties from veteran Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam and Sarfaraz Ahmed.

Pacemen Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Amir, and leg-spinner Shadab Khan, took the wickets to restrict England to 334-9 in their 50 overs.

“You could see the hunger, the determination and the resolve to do well in batting after a horror show and then the bowlers fought hard, so we need to repeat that in the coming matches as well,” said Arthur.

Pakistan have won all seven of their World Cup matches against Sri Lanka dating back to the first tournament in 1975.

Pakistan will be tempted to bring in fast bowler Mohammad Hasnain for his raw pace, something that New Zealand exploited against Sri Lanka during their 10-wicket rout of their opponents in Cardiff on Saturday.

On Tuesday, Sri Lanka beat Afghanistan in a rain-shortened match, also in Cardiff, to breathe life into their campaign.

But the 1996 champions will be wary of another middle-order batting collapse after they lost five wickets for 14 runs against New Zealand and seven wickets for 36 runs against Afghanistan.

Sri Lankan coach Chandika Hathurusingha said he had told his batsmen to up their game.

“I don’t give pep talks. I give honest talk, that’s all. I tell them what has to be done. They have to come and perform,” said Hathurusingha, who praised opener Kusal Perera for his 78-run knock, which helped Sri Lanka reach 201 against Afghanistan.

“He’s an amazing player,” said Hathurusingha.

“We have given him the full licence to bat the way he wants to bat. We know that when he’s come up, most of the time it’s match-winning.”

But one factor outside anybody’s control is the weather, with persistent rain forecast for Bristol on Friday. Babar Azam, Pakistan’s resolute No.3 batsman, boasts a healthy ODI record against Sri Lanka, averaging 58.33, with two centuries in eight games. A fifty against England meant that Azam’s last four ODI scores read 115, 80, 22 and 63.

With the middle-order still experiencing patchy form, the onus will be on Kusal Perera to provide another strong start. Against Afghanistan, Perera looked at ease, cutting and pulling in his trademark style, as he shared a 92-run opening stand with Dimuth Karunaratne.

Meanwhile, Dimuth Karunaratne insists Sri Lanka can end their wretched World Cup record against Pakistan when they clash in Bristol on Friday.

Pakistan have won all seven World Cup encounters against Sri Lanka dating back to the inaugural World Cup in 1975.

But Sri Lanka are optimistic afte recovering from a crushing 10-wicket defeat in their opening match against New Zealand.

A hard-earned 34-run win against minnows Afghanistan lifted Sri Lankan spirits, although Karunaratne acknowledges they still have room for improvement.

The next test for the 1996 champions comes against an unpredictable Pakistan side who were bowled out for 105 in their opening seven-wicket defeat against the West Indies before a shock 14-run victory against hosts and tournament favourites England.

Asked on Thursday if Sri Lanka’s past struggles against Pakistan could be a mental barrier, captain Karunaratne told reporters: “We may not have won against Pakistan in the World Cup but it doesn’t bother us.

“It’s just another one-day international for us so if we perform well on that day we can win.” Karunaratne admitted his team were low on confidence after being shot out for 136 by New Zealand, but he believes they have more than enough talent to see off Pakistan “Pakistan is an unpredictable team but we are also coming into this game having won one and lost one. We were low in confidence but we will give our best shot out to beat them,” he said.

Sri Lanka will have to guard against another middle-order collapse, which derailed their good starts in both the matches, a weakness Karunaratne hopes will be addressed.

“We have some areas to improve in batting,” said Karunaratne, whose team slumped from 144-1 to 201 all out against Afghanistan.