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Mickey Arthur warns against unfair ‘witch-hunt’ on Babar Azam & Co.

Pakistan slipped to a one-wicket loss at the hands of South Africa

Mickey Arthur warns against unfair ‘witch-hunt’ on Babar Azam & Co. PHOTO: FILE

Pakistan team director Mickey Arthur warned against a "witch-hunt" after their World Cup dream suffered a likely fatal blow on Friday.

Pakistan slipped to a one-wicket loss at the hands of South Africa, their fourth defeat in six games in India.

They will have to win their remaining three matches and hope other results go their way if they are to sneak into the semi-finals.

"They're going to be blaming everybody, don't worry. It's just the way of the world," said Arthur.

"It's really unfair to start a witch-hunt, certainly on (captain) Babar Azam, on 'Inzi' (chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq), on our coaches, on the management team. 

"What I do know is the boys have tried and the effort of the coaching staff, the effort of the players has been first-class. If they would see the amount of effort that the players and staff put in, they would be amazed."

Pakistan, who were ranked as the world's top ODI team last month, won their first two games of the tournament.

However, they then slumped to defeats against arch-rivals India, Australia and Afghanistan before going down to the Proteas on Friday.

They made 270 with Saud Shakeel (52) and Babar Azam (50) in the runs before reducing South Africa from 206-4 to 250-8.

However, tailenders Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi, who had earlier taken 4-60, saw the Proteas home and to the top of the 10-nation table.

Aiden Markram had set the platform for victory with a fighting 91.

Before Friday's match the Pakistan Cricket Board had released a statement stressing it had allowed Azam and Inzamam all powers to select the World Cup squad.

Arthur admitted Pakistan were below par in the tournament.

"Look I think at a World Cup you've got to be playing your best game at the right time," said Arthur who took over earlier this year.

"Our form had sort of drifted off a little bit. And there's various reasons. We talk about it every day as to what it could have been. But our form kind of drifted off. And again, we haven't put the perfect games together.

"We've batted well, we haven't bowled well. I do think our fielding standards have been average. So, there's a lot of work that we need to put in and get to the standards required to win a World Cup."

Arthur admitted Pakistan were short of a challenging total on Friday.

"I thought 300 was the par score but our bowlers had given us a real chance there and they've given it everything. It's a really disappointed dressing room and our players, I know, we can be proud of tonight."

Arthur said Pakistan showed off a fighting spirit against South Africa that was lacking in their shock eight-wicket defeat to Afghanistan last Monday.

"Tonight was a totally different feeling in that dressing room to the Afghanistan game," said Arthur. 

"In the Afghanistan game, we were average in all departments. Tonight, we were okay with the bat, I thought we were very good with the ball. 

"And tonight, I'm really proud of those players because they fought right to the bitter end."