Unpredictability - one single word to express the Pakistan Cricket Team. You can never know what this team can do, one day they can be the best in the world and the next day, a mediocre team who doesn’t even look like a professional cricket team
Current Champions of the ICC Champions Trophy (CT), Winners of the 1992 edition of the world cup, but this time around, things don’t look very good for the Pakistan team.
The Pakistan team for the world cup is -
Sarfaraz Ahmed (wicketkeeper and captain), Asif Ali, Babar Azam, Wahab Riaz, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Shoaib Malik
This team has its flair, and also has experience. But the team lacks something extraordinary. Mohammad Amir could have been the x-factor for them but considering his recent form, that’s highly unlikely. Talking about form, Pakistan haven’t won any of their last 11 matches, losing 10 of them, the other one abandoned.
Pakistan have a batting lineup with consistent performers like Babar Azam and Imam-ul-Haq, and an agent of destruction in Fakhar Zaman. Fakhar might be inconsistent, but he proved his worth in the last CT final against India. With Haris Sohail, Shoaib Malik and Sarfaraz Ahmed, Pakistan’s biggest weakness might be their middle order. Often they have failed to capitalize on a good start, which indicates that the middle order is shaky, even with experienced campaigners like Shoaib Malik. Asif Ali has shown promise, but his level of experience is a concern for Pakistan.
Spin might play a crucial role in England, as the pitches will be more batting friendly than ever, the spinners can keep the runs in check and pressurize the batsmen. Pakistan have quality spinners in Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim, and with veterans like Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez bowling off spin, Pakistan have a spin unit which is multidimensional.
Pakistan have always been well known for their fast bowling unit, but this time around, their pace bowlers look quite off track. Mohammad Amir or Hasan Ali are nowhere near the form they showed in CT 2017, and Wahab Riaz looks like he has left his best form way behind. Shaheen Shah Afridi is raw speedster who has shown promise, the same thing can be said about Mohammad Hasnain, but both are untested in pressure situations.
Players to look out for
Babar Azam has scored 950 runs in 23 matches, averaging 52.77 in the past 12 months. On the other hand, Imam-ul-Haq has averaged 61.90 in the last year, scoring 1238 runs in 24 matches. Two batsmen with quality and class, they should provide Pakistan with good starts at the top of the order.
Hasan Ali was the player of the tournament in CT 2017, but he hasn’t really been in flying form in the recent past. He has picked up only 18 wickets in his last 19 matches, averaging almost 45. But considering the fact that the World Cup is in England (The hosts of CT 2017), Hasan Ali can prove to be a threat for every team.
Stats & Trivia
Pakistan have lost 10 of their last 11 matches, with the other one abandoned. Their record in England in particular is far from great, winning only 33 in the 82 matches they played. Pakistan have played 15 One Day Internationals in England in the last 5 years, among them they have won only five, four of them coming at the CT 2017.
Fakhar Zaman has scored 452 runs at a strike rate of 113.85 in 9 innings in England, averaging 50.22. Imam-ul-Haq has scored 234 runs in 4 innings in England, at a strike rate of 88.97.
Hasan Ali has picked up 24 wickets in 14 matches in England, averaging around 29. He was the player of the series in the CT 2017, where he picked up 13 wickets in 5 matches.
Pakistan was knocked out at the quarter final stage in World Cup 2015 by eventual champions Australia. India knocked Pakistan out in the semifinals of the 2011 World Cup, and 2007 World Cup was a horror show for them, where they were knocked out of the group stage by Ireland.
Even though unpredictability is a synonym for the Pakistan team, it can be said that they don’t look like potential semifinalists. Their team isn’t really a balanced one, and they lack firepower in every department. But they weren’t considered to be the champions in 1992 or in the CT 2017, so ruling them out completely would be audacious. You never know it with Pakistan, so they might shock the world again, in the span of two years.