Graeme Smith assesses Pakistan's chances at the World Cup
Former South Africa Captain Graeme Smith talked about Pakistan’s chances at the upcoming World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Pakistan have won the tournament once, while losing in the final another time and have appeared four times in the semi-finals in ten attempts.
Pakistan’s young squad is captained by Misbah-ul-Haq and has Younis Khan and Shahid Afridi to provide the experience. However, Saeed Ajmal’s exclusion will come as a relief to all the other teams according to Smith. He also said that the inconsistency in the Pakistani camp may harm their chances at lifting the trophy for the second time.
Smith said, “Every batsman in every team is breathing a sigh of relief that Ajmal is not around. Believe me, I wish I could go play a Pakistan team without Ajmal in it.
“They're looking for stability, looking for someone who can create some consistency. The younger generation of batters hasn't quite stepped up to the plate in terms of consistent performances.”
Smith also remembered the way the Pakistani team defied all odds to win the World Cup in 1992 and praised Misbah’s captaincy.
“When you go back to 1992, a charismatic captain. Who can forget Wasim Akram in the final of the tournament? And they had some x-factor. That's what they need to find now, early in the tournament, find their best eleven,” Smith continued.
“He (Misbah) comes across as very serious, very methodical, and I think my favourite quote by him is, ‘My name is Misbah, my nickname is Misbah.’ You know that sums up the personality.”
Graeme Smith was, however, sceptical of Umar Akmal’s role, but said that Afridi holds all the cards.
The 34-year-old said, “He's one of those cricketers, who comes in and plays some good shots, gets to 25 or 30 and you think this guy is going to do something special. But he'll just get out to a soft shot or won't really follow through on the innings and continue his good work.”
On Afridi, Smith said, “He's going to be a key performer, he has huge experience, with 350+ ODIs. That's immense. They are going to need more from him in this tournament.”