Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur has posed a simple question to his team ahead of their World Cup game against India on Sunday: “How would the Class of 2019 like to be remembered?”
Arthur believes that Sunday presents them with an “incredible opportunity” to set their dismal World Cup record straight against the arch-rivals.
He put it as it is, very different from India captain Virat Kohli, who sounded diametrically opposite in his assessment.
“We’ve got 15 incredible cricketers in that dressing room, and we keep stressing to them, how do you want to be remembered? You’re the Class of 2019. What are they going to say about you in history? And tomorrow presents an unbelievable opportunity for these guys to really make a mark,” Arthur said Saturday.
It is one of the biggest rivalries in any sport, if not the biggest, said the former Proteas coach.
“I don’t want to say it’s the biggest rivalry in sport, but I saw some statistics which said I think the soccer World Cup final attracted 1.6 billion viewers. Tomorrow, it is likely to be 1.5 billion. It doesn’t get bigger than that. It doesn’t get more exciting,” Arthur said, making no bones about the fact that the hype is justified.
No wonder, he is telling them to make history.
“I’m telling our players in the dressing room, you could be a hero tomorrow. Your careers are going to be defined by a moment in the game. You do something incredible tomorrow, you’ll be remembered forever.”
However, he agreed it’s not easy if things don’t fall in place as it has happened with a predictably “unpredictable” Pakistan team. He, in fact, said that he does not like when critics say “they don’t know which Pakistan will turn up”.
“Does that first ball hit the mark? Does Mohammad Amir run in and that first ball is back of the length going through to the keeper? If the ball is blocked, Shadab Khan is our best fielder, does he come into the game early? All those type of things you get a feel for, and I guess we watch it unfold from the dressing room. We almost know what’s going to happen,” he said.
Amir’s first spell in the 2017 Champions Trophy final is still there in collective consciousness and Arthur won’t mind a repeat.
“Yeah, that is key. Without wanting to harp too much, that was two years ago, but when you get into the Indian top order, you can create a little bit of havoc,” said Arthur.
“There’s some fun players all the way down, don’t get me wrong, but if you can rattle their top order with the new ball, you certainly have an advantage. That is something that we will certainly be trying to work on,” he signed off.