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Coaches can’t improve mental side

india Updated: May 10, 2010 01:29 IST

The members of the Pakistan team who had stayed on to watch the South Africa-England game would have become big supporters of the England team.

A win by England gives them a slim chance to qualify for the semifinals if the following scenario unfolds — England beat New Zealand and thus win all three games in the Super Eight and Pakistan beat South Africa. If that happens, three teams will finish with a win each and it will then boil down to the net run-rate.

That’s the only way the defending champions can get through to the knockout stage. Coming back to the match, it was expected that Pakistan would coast to a win after restricting New Zealand to a small total.

But those who have seen Pakistan chase small totals in recent times will never be certain of anything.

In Sydney earlier this year, they made a hash of chasing a small target that would have made the Test series 1-1 going into the decider. If the batting then was more in the T20 mode, in Barbados, there were maiden overs played as if it was a Test match.

There is nothing anybody can do about a team, which has players of enormous skills but unknown temperament. Coaches can polish skills but is there a coach who can help with the mental aspect? If there were one, teams would never lose.

What was surprising was the manner in which South Africa surrendered. They are usually a well-drilled unit who do simple things right.

They are very good when the tide is going their way, but as soon as there is an unexpected situation, they too lose the way. Their temperament also is quite fragile and that’s why they have the chokers tags attached to them.

The surprise so far has been England who, having escaped elimination by the skin of their teeth, are now looking like the team to watch out for.

They too do a lot of homework and have always been good on theory but not so good when putting it into practice.

Pietersen’s unorthodox batting and the calm captaincy of Collingwood is a factor and it will be interesting to see if they can cope with the expectations of the big contingent of supporters that travels with them especially to sunny climes.