Cricket Article

World Cup 2019 Preview: Unpredictable Pakistan Could Spring a Few Surprises

World Cup 2019 Preview: Unpredictable Pakistan Could Spring a Few Surprises Photo: TT
Will Babar Azam Help Pakistan Win the 2019 World Cup?

Pakistan have appeared in all 11 World Cups since its inception in 1975. Semi finalists on four occasions (1979, 1983, 1987 and 2011), runners up in 1999 and World Champions under the captaincy of Imran Khan in 1992.

They come into the 12th edition of the World Cup as the sixth ranked ODI team in the ICC Cricket Rankings. The squad as whole is very inexperienced, there are a few seasoned veterans in captain Sarfraz Ahmed, vice captain Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez, however, no other members of the squad, apart from Babar Azam and Junaid Khan who’ve played in 59 and 74 ODIs respectively, have played more than 50 ODIs.

The years between the previous World Cup and the upcoming one has been a mixed bag for Pakistan.

2017 was a massive year for the nation as they won their maiden ICC Champions Trophy beating out tournament favourites England in the semi finals and overcoming arch rivals India in the finals to claim the trophy.

As always with Pakistani bowlers grabbed the headlines, Hasan Ali was awarded player of the series for his haul of 13 wickets, and brilliance surrounded Mohammad Amir’s spell of six overs in the final where he devoured three wickets for 16 runs, dismantling the Indian opening order of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli will go down in Pakistani cricketing folk lore.

2018 was off to a bad start with a series whitewash in New Zealand, and it ended on a sour note as well with a dismal showing in the Asia Cup losing to India twice once by eight wickets and the other by nine wickets. The low ebb would continue in 2019 with a series defeat in South Africa by the odd match in five which was followed by whitewash against a resurgent Australia at home.

Pakistan will be facing hosts England days before the start of the tournament, this gives them an opportunity to acclimatize with the English conditions and make a few last minute changes to the squad, which for now doesn’t include Mohammad Amir who has struggled for form since his Champions Trophy display in 2017, the bowler has gone wicketless in nine of 14 ODIs he has played since then.

It is also an opportunity for youngsters Shaheen Shah Afridi and Mohammad Hasnain to gain valuable experience, they might be the future of Pakistani cricket but the pace bowlers come in to the tournament with a total of 13 ODIs played between the pair.

Pakistan on their day can bowl out any team in the world but their best days are few and far between, it is shocking as to how inconsistent the team is.

The batting order regularly fails to put a decent total for the bowlers to defend, the middle order lacks depth and there is an alarming lack of hitting power within the squad in a day and age where a score total over 300 runs is considered to be par.

Pakistan’s chances of winning the tournament aren’t best, but perhaps it’s not a bad thing with captain Sarfraz Ahmed insisting his team performs better as underdogs without the pressures of expectation.

The last time Pakistan were in England for the World Cup tournament was in 1999, Wasim Akram’s men were tournament favourites and went all the way to the final only for their batsmen to crumble for a 132 runs, Australia would reach that target within 20 overs with 30 overs to spare. This time they come in as underdogs and although it is highly unlikely they might be able to go one better than their 1999 counterparts.


World Cup 2019 Betting Odds:

Pakistan to win: 15/1

Rajeev mcallister
Sports Pundit staff writer

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