It's almost like COVID time: Arthur says security stifling Pak players

Pakistan players during a training session at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. Photo: PTI/Shailendra Bhojak

Bengaluru: Pakistan have been going through a difficult World Cup campaign and their Director of Cricket Mickey Arthur on Friday attributed one part of the rough ride to the heightened security around players, largely confining them to the hotel rooms.

Pakistan, who have lost four of their seven matches, need to win their remaining two games, including the one against New Zealand here on Saturday and also hope that a few other results go in their favour to stay alive in the semifinal race.

"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, 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," said Arthur during the pre-match press meet.

Arthur said the players' inability to socialise during such a long tournament has affected them during the quadrennial showpiece.

"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.

The tight security cover was expected for the Pakistan team in India, given the history and diplomatic tension between the two nations.

The hotels where the Pakistan contingent stays are on a 24-hour vigil to avoid any untoward incident.

Seeking some time to unwind Pakistan skipper Babar Azam had gone one a long drive last Sunday in Kolkata.

The South African said the team has tried to create some fun spaces within the walls of the hotel rooms but without so much effect as a real-time meeting 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," he said.

However, Arthur said the players have tried their best to embrace the travel to different venues and the experience wholeheartedly.

"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," he added.

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