Pakistan wilted versus India in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 in what is cricket’s most high-profile game, with an measured television audience of a billion in addition to a capacity crowd of 24,000 that created a harsh atmosphere at Edgbaston.
This was Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur’s first direct crisis in cricket’s fiercest rivalry, with Sunday’s game taking place in Birmingham -- a city with one of the largest Asian populations in United Kingdom.
The 49-year-old coach, in common with players from both teams, had tried to downplay the fixture as no more crucial than any other match.
But that message did not get through to certain members of Arthur’s team, with seamer Wahab Riaz losing the plot totally during a wicketless return of none for 87 in 8.4 overs which ended when the left-armer fell in his delivery tramp and went off with an ankle injury.
But the South African was angry at suggestions that Wahab Riaz had come into the game carrying an injury.
“Let’s get something straight first off. Wahab Riaz was fully fit. He went through a fitness test; he was declared fully fit,” Mickey insisted.
“He performed poorly and I’ll take the blame. I selected him because I wanted him to perform a role. He didn’t execute that role, unfortunately.
“Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t.”
The 31-year-old seamer ankle knock meant the tailender was unable to bat in a placid run chase that never got going before Pakistan eventually slumped to 164 all out.
“The only thing I can think is the magnitude of the situation got to them,” said Arthur, a former coach of both South Africa and Australia.
“But we’ll bounce back from it,” insisted Arthur, whose side must beat South Africa at Edgbaston on Wednesday to have any hope of reaching the semi-finals.”