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How Pakistan reached a new high on the yo-yo test

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The ICC Champions Trophy 2017 was a "watershed moment" that changed the Pakistan team's approach to fitness, the coaching staff has revealed.

Head coach Mickey Arthur has constantly stressed on the importance of fitness ahead of the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019. He has been vocal in pulling up the team when he sees them lacking in this area – as he did during their recent 5-0 loss to Australia in the United Arab Emirates. The players' performance in fitness tests was a big part of what decided World Cup selection.

According to Grant Luden, the Pakistan strength and conditioning coach, the yo-yo test became a part of their preparation a few years ago, and the team has been constantly improving the numbers.

He began with a standard of 17:1, keeping in mind that the players would be expected to turn out in matches twice or thrice a week. "As a team, we've gone from 17:1 to 17:4, which is our bare minimum standard," he said in a video posted by the PCB. "But from a team point of view, our team average has gone from 17:4 to 18:1. We've got some guys, like Mohammad Rizwan [the wicket-keeper batsman], that run 21 on our yo-yo test."

The Champions Trophy, which Pakistan won, was a valuable reminder of the importance of maintaining high standards. "Coming into the Champions Trophy, we had a few players out of shape," said Luden. "We had to make a hard decision and we had to send those players home. And thank goodness! We had the results ... It was a watershed moment for us."

Video cwc19 20 Dec 17
Pakistan stuns India to win Champions trophy 2017
Pakistan nearly missed out on qualification for the Champions Trophy altogether and began their campaign with a heavy loss to arch rivals India. But then victories over world No. 1 South Africa, Sri Lanka and hosts England set up a tantalising re-match against India in the Final at The Oval. Not to be denied on this occasion, Pakistan set an imposing total of 338, led by a century to Fakhar Zaman before Mohammad Amir and Hasan Ali combined to bowl India out for 158 to deliver an unlikely but memorable triumph.

"[Fitness] is not the be all and end all," Arthur insisted. "[But] it gives the guys a better opportunity of performing. And that, for us, is important in terms of how many matches we play, so recovery becomes a part of that."

Arthuer further said that a team's fitness is a reflection on the coaching staff, while Grant Flower, the batting coach, added: "It shows how much they want to play for their country. If they arrive out of nick, and not fit or overweight, it shows they are not willing to make the sacrifices required to play for their country."

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