Karachi: Despite Pakistan booking their place in the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy following a heroic win over Sri Lanka, head coach Mickey Arthur has conceded that out-of-form middle order batsmen are a matter of concern.
When quizzed about the fragility of the team's batting line-up, Arthur said that "middle order has been exposed a bit" before suggesting that skipper Sarfraz Ahmed and experienced batsman Shoaib Malik might get promoted in the batting order.
"We may try to get Safi (Sarfraz) and [Shoaib] Malik in a little bit earlier. We have to discuss what happens," the Dawn quoted Arthur as saying.
Pakistan had to hold their nerves to clinch a narrow three-wicket win against the Angelo Mathews-led side in their do-or-die Champions Trophy fixture and eventually seal the semi-final spot at the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff on Monday.
Arthur did not look satisfied with the manner Pakistan emerged victorious and said that he was expecting a better performance from his boys.
"We do sometimes make it difficult for ourselves. We were probably soft at times yesterday. But the guys are working very hard. We are evolving as a team. When you win ugly, you learn a lot about the team," he added.
The Pakistan head coach, however, said that his side's unpredictability is their strong suit, adding that they have been trying hard to play much more consistent cricket and become a better team.
"It is emotionally tough at times. We are trying to play more and more consistent cricket, we are trying to get better in that department, but it is a tough ride every now and then," Arthur said.
"Sometimes, that's our strength. Our unpredictability. We give the guys clear roles, they know what they need to do," he added.
Chasing a target of 237 runs to win in the virtual quarterfinal clash, Pakistan made a great start to their innings with openers Azhar Ali (34) and Fakhar Zaman (50), stitching a crucial 75-run stand to provide their side to laid the platform.
However, Pakistan lost their next five batsmen in quick successions to reduce to 162-7 and it looked almost unlikely for the Sarfraz-led to cross the line.
But Sri Lanka's disintegrated fielding in the last 45 minutes with couple of dropped catches and Sarfraz subsequent half-century saw Pakistan book their place in the semi-finals.
Sarfraz struck an unbeaten 61-run knock off 79 balls besides sharing a pivotal partnership of 75 runs with fast bowler Mohammad Amir (unbeaten at 28) to help Pakistan chase down the target with 31 balls to spare.
Pakistan will now take on hosts England in the first semi-finals at the same venue on Wednesday while the other last-four contest will see defending champions India taking on Bangladesh at Edgbaston a day after....