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ICC World Cup 2019: Can Pakistan rediscover their winning formula this year?

Dhruvo Das
TOP CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
1.96K   //    07 May 2019, 19:40 IST

Pakistan after their Champions Trophy win
Pakistan after their Champions Trophy win

Pakistan's ability to be world beaters on one day and to produce an appalling performance the very next makes them one of the most exciting teams in world cricket.

When the world was ridiculing them for their performances, they rose like a phoenix from the ashes and clinched their maiden ICC Champions Trophy in 2017. But since then, Pakistan have lost their mojo, managing to win only three out of 20 encounters against the top 6 sides.

Replicating their Champions Trophy effort at the World Cup 2019 might be quite difficult for them. The latest World Cup format might well be their new foe, as it demands consistency - which Pakistan have always lacked in the past.

However, what works in their favor is their record in England. Pakistan were runners-up in the 1999 World Cup, they won the ICC World Twenty20 2009, and triumphed in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy, all held in England.

The Pakistani bowling attack has the ability to decimate any batting line-up in the world, and the batting unit has shown glimpses of consistency. But will they all come to the party in England?

Preliminary World Cup squad: Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk,c), Abid Ali, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shoaib Malik

Probable XI: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Shoaib Malik, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Imad Waim, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi

Batsmen

Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq will start the proceedings for Pakistan with the bat. The Champions Trophy final saw the making of Fakhar Zaman, who caught everyone's attention with his scintillating hundred against India. Since then, the southpaw has been prolific in limited overs cricket for Pakistan.

Imam, who has everyone with his technique and temperament, will be Zaman's partner in crime at the top.

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Babar Azam is unarguably Pakistan's batting linchpin and the onus will be on him to play match-winning innings for his side. Haris Sohail's ability to play spin well and maneuver the ball in the gaps during the middle overs will make him a key asset at number 4.

Pakistan will rely heavily on the experienced duo of Shoaib Malik and Sarfaraz Ahmed to finish off games for them. However, the Pakistani skipper has not been in great form of late and will have to rediscover his rhythm sooner rather than later.

Another worry for Pakistan is that they haven't fully adapted to the modern run scoring trends. The lack of power hitters in the side and high dot ball percentage have resulted in Pakistan frequently struggling to cross the 300-run mark.

The average strike rate of the top 6 batsman is a modest 85.2 out of 100 balls, which comes down to 83 if Zaman's strike rate is taken out of the equation.

All-rounders

The onus will be on the spin twins Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan to pick up wickets in the middle-overs and to also contribute with the bat during the tail end of the innings.

Wasim has established himself as one of the best T20 all-rounders but his record in 50-over cricket has not been impressive. However, Shadab Khan has been brilliant in his short international career and has 47 scalps to his name in the 34 ODIs he has featured.

Faheem Ashraf will be the backup all-rounder for Pakistan. His ability to seam the ball in English conditions and play powerful shots down the order will come in handy for Pakistan at some stage during the World Cup.

Bowlers

Mohammad Amir's exclusion from the World Cup squad certainly raised a few eyebrows, but there is no doubt in my mind that Pakistan have the most complete pace attack. Hasan Ali will lead the bowling attack for them, and his ability to pick up wickets at any stage of a match will make him a vital cog in the team.

Junaid Khan's ability to swing the new ball and nail those yorkers at the death will further bolster the attack. Shaheen Shah Afridi, the U19 sensation, will add a new dimension to the bowling attack with his pace and steep bounce.

Mohammad Hasnain, who was given the nod ahead of Usman Khan Shinwari, would be a real asset for Pakistan this World Cup with his raw pace.

X-factor: Fakhar Zaman

Predicted finish: 5th or 6th









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