Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur was given a rough reminder of how quickly fortunes can change in Pakistan cricket after seeing his side slump to a 5-0 ODI series defeat in New Zealand. The whitewash was just the third 5-0 loss in Pakistan's history, and the first since 2010. Speaking after the game, he said he refused to use the conditions as an excuse, instead laying the responsibility at the feet of the top order.
"They've got the ability and without wanting to look for excuses, they need to get better in these conditions," Arthur said. "Our guys need to step up, that's the bottom line. Our top order haven't done a job for us in the series and that's a pity. Haris Sohail coming in gave us some stability, and he showed us how to apply oneself in these conditions."
Pakistan's struggles against the new ball in seaming conditions have been brutally exposed this series, with Trent Boult and Tim Southee running riot in the first Powerplay. Pakistan lost their first two wickets for under 20 runs in all five matches. They found themselves reduced to 54 for 5, 39 for 3, 32 for 8, 11 for 2, and 57 for 5 at the starts of the five matches, meaning they found themselves playing catch-up for the best part of their innings all series. With the World Cup now less than 18 months away, Arthur said the side may need to reevaluate their approach.
"With the World Cup coming up in a year's time, it's important now that the next one-day team we play is a team that we really believe can shake the World Cup up. It's not discrediting to the players in the dressing room because they have tried exceptionally hard, but we do need to reassess where we go to make sure we get it right next time when we come out, particularly in foreign conditions."
At the same time, he defended the players that were part of the tour, lauding the way young players had stood up whenever given the chance, and warning against writing off players who, just six months ago, won the Champions Trophy.
"Every time we bring young boys in, they stand up. They have done it, they have done it under pressure. They did it at the Champions Trophy for us. When Fakhar Zaman walked in, he changed the tempo in the Champions Trophy, playing fearless cricket. Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, these are the guys who'd do anything for you. When we play in our own conditions, we dominate because our guys are comfortable and they play very well there. This is like playing on the north pole for them. It's so different but we got to be better at that.
"But our blue print that we had was good enough to win us the Champions Trophy, it was good enough to win nine ODIs in a row. But we haven't played well enough here, and that's a fact. Our guys have come out of playing a lot of T20 leagues. I am not making excuses, that's just the way it is. We haven't adapted well and haven't played well enough. But the blue print for us still remains the same, but obviously personnel changes could happen."
Arthur also said New Zealand deserved credit for the way they had played, and that playing against them would be difficult in any conditions. Kane Williamson's men have enjoyed a purple patch of late, impressing in a series defeat in India last year, before going on a run at home that has seen them notch up a record number of consecutive wins. They currently have a 100 per cent winning record this home season, winning two Tests, three ODIs and two T20Is against the West Indies before the 5-0 against Pakistan.
"They are very good team. I am incredibly impressed with how they are playing and I have watched them over the period of time. Every team right now in their conditions is a very good team. But you are judged how you play away from home, and I watched them in India, and New Zealand played exceptionally well outside. They seem to have covered all the bases."