Pace bowler Mohammad Amir is fit and will play for Pakistan in the Champions Trophy final at The Oval on Sunday, coach Mickey Arthur has told a news conference.
A back spasm kept Amir out as Pakistan defeated hosts England brilliantly on Wednesday but Arthur is now pinning his hopes on a full-strength attack to contain India‘s batsmen better than most other sides have managed so far.
“If we can get amongst them with the new ball, we can expose the middle order that hasn’t batted much in this competition, so that’s pretty much our aim and focus,” the South African Arthur said on Saturday.
Arthur believes that the way his players recovered from a heavy defeat by India in the group stage with impressive victories over South Africa and England proves that it was merely “an aberration”.
“That was something we hadn’t prepared for,” he said.
“We knew how hard the guys had prepared. So what we’ve produced after that doesn’t come as any surprise because that’s how we trained, and that’s what we worked at.
“It was very disappointing to see that go wrong in the Indian game. But we’ve closed the chapter on that. We’re now moving forward. And the guys have played really well.”
With eight wins in the teams’ previous 10 World Cup and Champions Trophy meetings, India are firm favourites but Arthur has taken confidence from their defeat in the group stage by Sri Lanka.
“Sri Lanka batted exceptionally well there. They played fielders’ cricket. They took the game on. But we’ve got to look at our strengths, and our strength has been the fact that we’ve been able to take wickets consistently through the middle periods.
“We’ve got to play to our strengths, and our strength certainly is with the ball. I said it before the England game, if we put our “A” game together and do the basics well, we can beat anybody.”
As for the intense pressure that will surround the final, Arthur said he hoped his young players could draw on their experience of the Pakistan Super League.
“Exposure to high-pressure situations is what India have had above Pakistan,” he said.
“The PSL has been a very, very successful competition. So that exposes more and more young players to pressure situations, and I think the more we can expose our guys to those situations, the better results we get out on the ground.”