BIRMINGHAM: Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur insisted his side were “completely calm” ahead of their Champions Trophy opener against arch-rivals India – the latest edition of world cricket’s highest profile fixture.
A sell-out crowd is expected at the Edgbaston ground in Birmingham – a city with one of the largest Asian populations in Britain – while the worldwide television audience for Sunday’s match could run into the billions.
But Arthur, after seeing Pakistan train Saturday, told reporters at Edgbaston: “They have topped their skills up, and they’re ready for a big game. “Our changing room was completely calm. It’s amazing. It’s the outside noise that there is.
“Within the dressing room, it is unbelievably calm, unbelievably focused and very, very excited for the challenge that presents itself tomorrow (Sunday).”
Arthur, appointed Pakistan coach in May last year added: “When we started this, the players would go and hit balls and hit balls and wouldn’t really know when to stop. “Today, we were short, we were sharp. People got exactly what they wanted out of the training nets.
“They’re ready for a big game. Our changing room was completely calm. It’s amazing.” This will be the first time Arthur, a former coach of both his native South Africa and Australia, has been involved directly in a match between cricket’s fiercest rivals.
Asked how it compared to the Ashes, Arthur who was dismissed by Australia shortly before the 2013 Test series against England, said, with a smile: “To be honest, I got sacked just before the Ashes. So I never ever experienced that.
“But I think this rivalry is certainly bigger than most and I’m just so excited to be part of it.” Arthur, however, insisted Pakistan would ignore the “little bit of hype” surrounding their latest fixture against India, the Champions Trophy title-holders.