Ah Pakistan, the team that can beat anyone and lose to anyone. It’s kind of always been like that too, or at least it has felt like that. Pakistan somehow won the 1992 World Cup, were favourites to win the 1999 World Cup before falling apart in the final, and every World Cup there are murmurs that they might win it again.
But then we have the cold, hard fact that they have never beaten India in a World Cup match, which is Pakistan’s version of choking. Pakistan have a far superior record to India overall, but in the World Cup tournament, they just can’t do it, which holds them back tremendously.
This time around the expectations surrounding Pakistan are somewhat lower. They haven’t been winning all that often, and, with the spot fixing scandal still in their memory, let alone the match fixing scandals, and all of the other scandals, not to mention their inability to host international matches, it seems like the world is against them, and not many are thinking that they will make any major impact in the tournament.
Just the same, even now, even with their current problems, with their current form, with their current set of players, they are still a chance to beat even the best side – though probably not India. They could certainly beat England or South Africa or Australia. Maybe this will be their first ever World Cup win over India? Or maybe not.
The big surprise is the absence of Mohammad Amir, the young fast bowler who confessed to spot fixing when the other two were trying to claim innocence. Amir has had a bit of a lean trot in ODI cricket and, per statistics, should have been dumped, but per common sense he should be there. Shaheen Shah Afridi is no relation to Shahid Afridi, and is a fast bowler, not a spin bowling all-rounder, but it is nice to see an Afridi in the line-up. Indeed, in spite of the absence of Mohammad Amir, it is a pretty good looking side, without any real gaps.
The problem is that they lack real batting strength and are at risk of being bowled out cheaply. While they have big hitters they lack real solid batsmen, and in other words they are going to struggle on tough batting decks.
Their bowling is their strength, both fast and spin bowling, but mostly fast. Imad Wasim offers a versatile Shahid Afridi-like option, of a big hitting spin bowling all-rounder, but is a bit more steady and less mercurial.
Five Fearless Predictions:
(1) They are going to lose to India – again:
Pakistan have never beaten India in a World Cup match and this one doesn’t look likely to be their first. This is a very strong Indian side and a comparatively weak Pakistan side. It’s not going to happen.
(2) Imad Wasim is going to star:
The big hitting middle order batsman and spin bowler is going to love the conditions in England so expect a lot from him.
(3) They are going to lose badly a lot:
I’m not just talking about losses to India, or the other teams expected to make it to the semi-finals – they might lose badly to West Indies and Pakistan too. They might even lose badly to Sri Lanka.
(4) They are going to win a big match:
I’m thinking South Africa are going to fall to Pakistan, but it’s hard to say who will fall. Maybe Australia will. Maybe England. Maybe even – no, it won’t be India.
(5) They won’t make it to the semi-finals:
While we can calculate the theoretical possibilities and say that Pakistan could qualify and could even go all the way and win the trophy, it just seems improbable to me. But, then again, their 1992 World Cup win was improbable too. That wasn’t supposed to be possible yet it happened. But there is no Imran Khan this time around – he is now their Prime Minister!
Predicted finish: 7th (3-6 results)
Best opponents: Bangladesh, Afghanistan
Worst opponents: India, Australia