Cricket World Cup 2019: The Underdogs
The ICC World Cup 2019 is criticized by many for not allowing more associate nations to compete in it. A 14-team or 16-team pool is what they wish for. While expanding the reach of the game is important, a Twenty20 World Cup is better suited to have a bigger group of countries compete.
Not every nation makes rapid strides like Afghanistan. It is counterproductive for the ODI World Cup to have matches that are not of the highest quality. The stakes should always be high. This would become apparent in this round-robin format where there are just no easy games.
A team can win its matches against the underdogs, yet miss out on the semi-finals and a strong team can pay a heavy price if they lose to an underdog despite doing well overall. Every point is important.
Three of the countries billed as underdogs have also been World Champions (Pakistan, West Indies, Sri Lanka) and there is a genuine possibility of them upsetting the applecarts of the favourites. Here's looking at the countries that begin slightly less fancied but are more than a handful on their day.
Also read: ICC World Cup 2019: The Favourites
Predicting anything regarding Pakistan is rife with risk but an underdog tag suits them the best. One of the limiting factors of this Pakistani side is that they can't out-bat a majority of their opponents. The squad gives the feeling that they are still in the early 2000s and the rest of the world has moved on - updated, improved, and recalibrated.
Yet, they are the holders of the last big ICC marquee event - ICC Champions Trophy in 2017. The biggest mistake Pakistan will be doing is to hold on to that memory, just as they have held on to their 1992 moment for an unhealthily long time. They do still have the element of surprise as not enough sides have played them regularly.
Current ICC Ranking: 6
Captain: Sarfraz Ahmed | Key Players: Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Hasan Ali