London: Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur made it clear some members of his one-day side were on borrowed time after another defeat by England raised fears the team might not qualify automatically for the 2019 World Cup.
England beat Pakistan by four wickets at Headingley yesterday to go 4-0 up in a five-match one-day international series. Once England had restricted Pakistan to a modest 247 for eight, with only skipper Azhar Ali (80) and Imad Wasim (57 not out) getting beyond 24 for the tourists in this day/night fixture, it was always going to take a remarkable display in the field to prevent a home win.
Mohammad Irfan rocked England with two early wickets but, much too Arthur’s annoyance, the giant paceman only bowled half of his alloted 10 overs because of a calf problem. Pakistan started this series ninth in the International Cricket Council ODI rankings, with only tournament hosts England and the top seven in the standings come the end of September next year qualifying automatically for the 2019 World Cup.
The remaining places for the slimmed-down 10-team tournament will be decided at a 2018 qualifying event in Bangladesh. While a World Cup without 1992 champions Pakistan remains unlikely, it is by no means unthinkable. This is a scenario that will frighten both their legions of loyal fans and ICC chiefs who could see their showpiece tournament deprived of a money-spinning match between Pakistan and arch-rivals India.
“It is what it is,” said Arthur, who only took over as Pakistan coach in May. “I hate the phrase, but we are number nine in the world and we can see why.”
Pakistan have a tough schedule as they try to improve their ranking, with the ICC system also factoring into account the quality of a team’s opposition.
“When I saw the fixture list, the games aren’t easy,” said Arthur, whose side have at least qualified for next year’s Champions Trophy, ‘the mini World Cup,’ in England.
“We’ve got two series against West Indies that we have to play well in — West Indies are a decent one-day outfit.