Pakistan team director Mickey Arthur says the reason behind the Men in Green team’s below-par performances in the ongoing ICC World Cup 2023 is the ultra-stringent security in which the entire contingent is being kept in India.
Pakistan, facing a challenging World Cup with four losses in seven matches, must win their remaining games, including the upcoming match against New Zealand, to stay in contention for the semifinals.
"What has been tough is the fact that we've been under a massive amount of security. And to be fair, I found it difficult. It's almost like we've been back in the COVID times, when 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,” Arthur said on even of Pakistan’s game against New Zealand.
"Our boys are used to being on the road. But when they're on the road, they've still been able to get out and have meals at different places, and get out on their own accord, and we haven't been able to do this time. That's been tough and stifling,” he added.
Due to historical hostilities and diplomatic concerns between the two countries, increased security measures were expected for the Pakistan team in India. The hotels where the Pakistan contingent is staying are monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure the safety of the players and officials.
Last Sunday, Pakistan captain Babar Azam went on a lengthy drive in Kolkata to alleviate the situation and bring some relief to the players.
Arthur praised the team's attempts to create exciting settings within the limits of hotel rooms, but he remarked that it couldn't replace the pleasure of interacting with the outside world.
"It's like Groundhog Day. You have breakfast, and if it's a non-training day, you're back to your room. We've tried to have sort of little fun team events within our team room. But there's only so much you can recreate. I think the guys have been out three times - we've managed to do that with security, get them out to a different restaurant, just to give them a little bit of a taste of the outside world,” Arthur said further.
Despite the difficulties, Arthur emphasized the tour's positive aspects, such as the players' opportunity to play at legendary cricket grounds they'd only seen on TV during IPL and Test matches.
"The interesting thing has been that every ground we've been to has been a new venue for our players. The players have really embraced that and they've enjoyed that fact because they've watched IPL on TV and they've seen Tests at iconic grounds like Eden Gardens, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai. So, for them to play there has been really exciting. Of course, it is the first time they're playing there, so it has taken a little bit to get used to the conditions," Arthur added.