'Like living under Covid': Pakistan team under tight security at World Cup in India

Pakistan are playing a tournament in India for the first time since 2016

By AFP

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Pakistan team arrives for the national anthem during the Cricket World Cup 2023 match between Pakistan and South Africa in Chennai, Friday, Oct. 27, 2023. PTI
Pakistan team arrives for the national anthem during the Cricket World Cup 2023 match between Pakistan and South Africa in Chennai, Friday, Oct. 27, 2023. PTI

Published: Fri 3 Nov 2023, 3:06 PM

Pakistan team director Mickey Arthur on Friday described the tight security facing his team at the World Cup in India as "stifling", leaving players feeling as if they are "back in Covid times".

Arthur's comments came a day ahead of the team's crucial match against New Zealand which Pakistan must win to keep their hopes alive of reaching the semi-finals.

Several Pakistan players have already suffered fever and flu at various stages of the tournament which fast bowler Hasan Ali attributed to "room sickness".

Players are not allowed to venture out of their hotel without heavy security, forcing them to spend most of their time in hotel rooms.

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"As a Pakistan team, we play a hell of a lot of cricket so being on the road is nothing new for these guys," said Arthur.

"What has been tough is the fact that we've been under a massive amount of security. So, I've been sort of taken aback."

"I found it difficult. It's almost like we've been back in the Covid times, where you were almost secluded to your floor and your team room."

"So much so that their breakfast is in a separate room to everybody else. That's been the tough aspect."

Pakistan are playing a tournament in India for the first time since 2016.

Arthur said that outside of playing and training, the team have not had many outings since their arrival in the last week of September.

"The boys are used to being on the road but when they're on the road, they've still been able to get out and go and have meals, for example, at different places, and get out on their own accord.

"We haven't been able to do that this time. And that's been tough. That has been quite stifling."

Arthur said no decision has been made yet on all-rounder Shadab Khan's participation in the remaining matches after he suffered a concussion against South Africa.

"Shadab went through a preliminary test today," said Arthur.

"He came through that OK, but we're in no position yet to make a decision on him."

This was Shadab's third concussion, having collided with a Sussex team-mate in a Twenty20 match in the UK in May 2023 and at the Asia Cup last year.

Meanwhile, Arthur admitted Pakistan have not played up to their potential in India.

"I'll be brutally honest, I don't think we've played to our full potential in this tournament yet. I thought the Bangladesh game was the first game where we actually put a complete game together."

Pakistan beat Bangladesh by seven wickets in Kolkata on Tuesday, their third win in seven games.

They now not only need to beat New Zealand on Saturday and defending champions England (Kolkata on November 11) but also hope other results go their way.

"We got ourselves into a position before the Bangladesh game where it was kind of out of our hands and it's come back in a funny way into our hands again," said Arthur.

Arthur admitted South Africa's 190-run defeat of New Zealand on Wednesday has handed them a lifeline.

"South Africa did us a little bit of a favour as well so it's kind of pushed it back into our hands, albeit a long shot and we need to win big in both our remaining matches," he said.

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