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'Very grateful for the gift' - Pakistan coach puts positive spin on crushing loss to India

"We haven't lost a game for three months, and it's a timely reminder for us to turn up every day"

Babar Azam was knocked over by a Hardik Pandya nip-backer, Pakistan vs India, Asia Cup Super Four, Colombo, September 11, 2023

Pakistan were bowled out for 128 to go down by 228 runs  •  AFP/Getty Images

The two days across which Pakistan went on to lose to India by 228 runs might have been a blessing for the team.
If this is the kind of positive spin that can only come from a member of the coaching staff, that is because, it is. Pakistan head coach Grant Bradburn described the match as a "gift", not only for giving Pakistan a sighter of the challenge India pose, but also because it brought his own team's frailties to the surface.
"We're very grateful for the gift that has been these last two days, because to come at this stage of the tournament - and to come before the World Cup - it's a wonderful opportunity first to play India," Bradburn said. "We don't get to play some of the best players in the world very often. Also to play in conditions that may be similar in the World Cup.
"We haven't lost a game for three months, and it's a timely reminder for us to turn up every day, put our best on the park. It's actually a gift that over the last two days we haven't quite done that."
The batting has not quite been at its best - on Monday, they stumbled to 128 for 8 in pursuit of 357. But Bradburn had the most glowing terms for the batters too.
"Our batting unit hasn't quite clicked yet over the past month, and we feel that's a positive thing," he said. "We have full trust in them. We are very consistent in our selection. We're very consistent with the way that we're developing contenders for each position. We've got some wonderful bench players who are pushing hard. We're believing strong in the players we trust. And we will continue to. We know that they will come right."
Among the weaknesses this match exposed was Pakistan's fielding. They caught poorly, letting one clear-cut chance (Shubman Gill's edge between first and second slip), and one half-chance to third slip. Their ground fielding was also modest.
"We weren't proud of our fielding in Kandy either, against India," Bradburn said. "It's something we've worked hard on, and it is improving big time within the group. We have some outstanding fielders. And we've been catching very well. We didn't win the fielding battle."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf