Chennai, Oct 28 (PTI) Pakistan's director of cricket Mickey Arthur said his team has failed to put together the "perfect game" in this World Cup, the main reason for their struggles at the ongoing showpiece.
Pakistan are virtually out of the World Cup after suffering a narrow one-wicket defeat against South Africa here on Friday, which happened to be their fourth straight loss in the tournament.
While Pakistan need to win all their three remaining games, their fate will also depend on other results.
"...look to be brutally honest, we haven't put together the perfect game yet. I don't think we've batted well enough yet as a unit. I think certainly par on that pitch is 300 at least. So, we haven't put together enough runs," a disappointed Arthur said at the post-match press conference.
"And then we haven't put together a bowling performance that goes with it. So tonight, I thought it was our best bowling performance of the competition. Thought we bowled really well, but I still thought we were under par in terms of the runs that we had.
"We haven't put the perfect game together yet. Hasn't been for lack of effort, hasn't been for lack of trying, but we just haven't got enough players in form at the minute, particularly with the bat," he added.
Arthur blamed Pakistan's back-end batting collapse as one of the major reasons for his side's defeat against South Africa. Pakistan started their innings on a strong note and were 225 for six by the 40th over before the lower middle-order and the tail-enders failed to do anything significant and were bowled out for 270.
"It was a mixture of both. I don't think we batted particularly well at the back end. But, we always set ourselves up to have. You've got to have one of your top four in at over 40," he said.
"And, you talk about the success that we've had over the last year; we've had one of our top four generally getting hundreds. We've had two hundreds this competition so far in the same game.
"So, we've had players get in. We've had players get starts. We haven't had players go through. And I don't think we managed the last five overs particularly well tonight," he added.
Arthur said Pakistan were 30 runs short of what would have been a winning total.
"There was still, at one point, in the 45th over, I remember saying to the dressing room a run a ball gets us 295 and a little bit more we get to 300. I know we would have defended 300 tonight (Friday)," he said.
"So, I don't think we managed that back end particularly well at all. And, we left 10-12 balls out there that we didn't face." Before the World Cup, Pakistan played an ODI series at home against New Zealand, where some flaws in their batting were noticed.
Asked if that made the situation more tricky for them before the tournament, Arthur admitted that their form did take a hit after that series.
"I think at a World Cup, you've got to be playing your best game at the right time. Our form had sort of drifted off a little bit. And, there are various (reasons)." Arthur minced no words while admitting that Pakistan were below-par in this tournament. "We've batted well; we haven't bowled well. I do think our fielding standards have been average. So, there's a lot of work that we need to put in to manage and get to the standards required to win a World Cup," the South African said.
"But, those are the things we talk about every day. Those are the things we talk when we go to the training ground; we train every day. We want to work to world-class standards, which we do in terms of our preparation." However, Arthur credited his bowlers for taking the game close against South Africa.
"Our bowlers had given us a real chance there, they've given it everything. It's a really disappointed dressing room.
"I know we can be proud of tonight because they've left everything, everything on the ground. They've given it their best shot. And that's all you can ask," he said.
With Pakistan now mainly dependent on other results going their way to make it to the semifinals, Arthur continued to remain optimistic.
Pakistan are on four points from six games, and even if they win all three games, there is less than five per cent chance of them qualifying for the last four stage.
"You never know. What I do know is that we need to go and assess combinations again. We need to have a look at the holes we have within our team," he said.
"We need to start improving in a lot of areas, and we've got to go home and finish this tournament with three victories. That's what I do know. Every day, we'll be trying and we'll be striving to do that," he signed off. PTI AYG SSC SSC