Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur has described the “surreal” feeling of watching his side bounce back from a drubbing by India in its tournament opener.
Having lost its first match against long-standing rival India by 124 runs, Pakistan completed an extraordinary turnaround to reach the final, where they beat the same opponents by 180 runs to lift the ICC Champions Trophy.
“It sort of feels surreal really, to be honest,” said Arthur.
“But the thing about that [initial] loss, and I think we clarified it at that time, was we knew that was an aberration. It wasn’t the norm because we had prepared properly. We had prepared really well. You know, we knew the calibre of players we had. We knew what their abilities were, and that certainly wasn’t what we had trained for, and we didn’t play to anywhere near our ability. So we just had to keep believing and keep them trusting the techniques and keep them trusting their game plan and keep them trusting their roles, and that’s why I’m incredibly proud of that dressing room because they did that. They kept on believing.
“We had some good, hard conversations [after that defeat], but we didn’t train anymore because we knew the base had been done. All that had been put in place. We trusted the players. We trusted what we had put in place, but we had some good honest conversations. And the players almost drove that conversation, which for us was very new, but also showed a maturity, and the way they turned it around was unbelievable.”
Arthur said he hoped the win would nourish passionate fans starved of watching their team play at home.
“I hope that the nation of Pakistan is really happy tonight because they deserve it. For what they’ve been through – you talk about our players not playing at home. But also the fans not identifying with heroes because they just don’t see international cricket. That’s massive for the country. So let’s hope that this really kick-starts that momentum in Pakistan again.”
India captain Virat Kohli could do little more than praise an opponent who did everything right on the day.
“We give our best every time we go out on the field, and I’m really proud of the way the team has played in this tournament.
“But you have to accept that the other team has outplayed you and they’ve shown better skill than you, they’ve shown better composure in pressure situations than you.
“Yes, we have shown the composure in pressure situations most often in this tournament, but that is no guarantee that you’re going to do it every time. You will have failures, and one team has to lose on the day, and today was our day to lose because the opposition played much better than us.”