Mickey Arthur praised Mohammad Amir’s superb 3-16, which led to an Indian capitulation as Pakistan claimed the Champions Trophy crown on Sunday.
Amir single-handedly dismantled an Indian top-order that boasted three of the tournament’s top five run-scorers in a devastating spell of new-ball bowling.
‘We spoke about it yesterday, if we could get amongst that top-order early, we could probably expose a middle-order that hadn’t batted a fair amount.
‘Amir was the guy that could do that for us. He certainly put India on the backfoot and gave us the upper hand’, Arthur told the media after their 18o-run win.
The Pakistan spearhead endured a turbulent last few years, after being banned for five years for spot-fixing in 2010, while also having to serve a six-month jail sentence. Arthur refused to be drawn into dwelling on the past, but instead focused on Amir’s ability to turn in big performances when it mattered most.
‘Amir’s performance says a lot about his personality. I think we’ve been through all of that before. What I do know about Amir is that he is a big-match player.
‘I do know that when the game is on the line, the bigger the game, the more amped up he gets. He does not shy away from pressure situations. He has got proper big-match temperament and he showed it today on the biggest stage,’ Arthur commented.
Arthur also remarked on the fairytale nature of turning a humiliating 124-run defeat to India in the group to a crushing victory in the final.
‘It sort of feels surreal, to be honest. The thing about that loss, and I think we clarified it at the time, was that we knew that the loss was an aberration. It wasn’t the norm because we had prepared properly. We knew the calibre of players we had.
‘We knew what their abilities were and that certainly wasn’t what we had trained for. That is why I am incredibly proud of that dressing room. They kept on believing and kept trusting their game plans and their roles. That was the most important thing,’ Arthur said.
Arthur lauded the maturity of his players to recover from a seemingly dire situation.
‘We had a good, honest conversation, but we didn’t train any harder. We trusted the players we had. We spoke about stepping up and standing up to our opposition.
‘The players almost drove that conversation, which for us was very new but showed a lot of maturity. The way they turned it around was unbelievable.’
Arthur also reflected on the victory from a personal point of view, having been through tough times at ICC events with the Proteas.
‘I’ve had five semi-finals with South Africa and never got to a final. I got to one final with Pakistan and eventually got a medal, so that’s fantastic, but the credit goes to the players and my fellow coaching staff and management who have been fantastic as well,’ he said.
Arthur expressed the hope that the Champions Trophy victory would result in a return of international cricket to the troubled nation for the first time since 2008.
‘We hope so [that a return of international cricket is imminent]. We’re scheduled to have a World XI in Pakistan in September for three T20 games, so hopefully that starts paving the way for future tours.’
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