For a country which suffers a lot from political instability, terrorism and other forms of insurgencies and unrest, cricket is perhaps the only element which not only brings smiles but also unites the people of Pakistan, albeit for a short time. Pakistan has not hosted an international match for a long time due to security concerns, but this has not deterred the spirits of either the players or the fans and they have continued to play with the same grit and passion.
It won’t be easy to replicate what Imran Khan and his boys achieved in ‘92, and the exclusion of Junaid Khan and Saeed Ajmal will make it all the more difficult. But having said that, one just can’t write them off because they never fail to surprise. Besides, the team have historically done its best when pushed to a corner.
Squad: Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Younis Khan, Haris Sohail, Umar Akmal, Sohaib Maqsood, Shahid Afridi, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Irfan, Ehsan Adil, Sohail Khan, Wahab Riaz.
So, here is the SWOT analysis of the Pakistan cricket team.
Bowling has been Pakistan’s traditional strength and even when its frontline bowlers have been unavailable, it has found able replacements who have stepped up to take the responsibility.
The bowling squad will be led by Mohammad Irfan and Wahab Riaz this time. Irfan, the tallest bowler in the world cup (more than seven feet tall!) can generate serious pace and that extra bit of bounce, enough to trouble the batsmen. The 32-year-old has picked up 57 wickets from 40 ODIs so far at an average of 29.92. On the other hand Riaz can reverse the old ball and pick up wickets towards the end of the innings.
The batting unit too looks firm this year. The flamboyant duo of Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad can provide a decent start at the top, while the rock-steady calmness of Misbah ul Haq and Younis Khan will steer the team in the middle overs. Afridi’s aggressive lower-order hitting provides thrust at the end and he is entering the tournament in superb form with the bat and ball alike. He has played 18 matches, performing in both departments, scoring 432 runs and taking 18 wickets, since the start of 2014.
Although ICC has approved the Ajmal’s bowling action, his inclusion in the world cup team still remains uncertain. Hafeez too can’t provide his bowling services because of the ban imposed on him, leaving the spin department very inexperienced. A major part of the game would therefore depend on Afridi’s quota of 10 overs.
Pakistan’s unpredictability being its strongest point, renders the opponent team to start on an uncertain ground. It is perfectly capable of delivering performances that no team can anticipate. The team might draw inspiration from the fact that last time when the world cup was staged in Australia-New Zealand, Pakistan won the tournament under the leadership of Imran Khan.
They have a perfect blend of youth and experience and the team would try its best to give a fitting farewell to the veterans Afridi and Misbah.
Their recent games had been pathetic, in which they often failed to fire together as a unit. They lost the two-match ODI series in New Zealand 2-0 just before the World Cup. Out of the 18 ODIs that they played last year, they managed to win just six games, including series losses of 2-3 and 0-3 against New Zealand and Australia in the United Arab Emirates.
edited by Bhavna Rachuri