No team signifies the tag ‘unpredictable’ more aptly than Pakistan in the game of cricket. Never short of talent, the Asian heavyweights are capable of being world-beaters on their day but there have been occasions aplenty where they have self-destructed to gift the opposition an easy victory.
Led by the mercurial Shahid Afridi, Pakistan has been on a dismal run of form in the T20 format. They lost 3-0 to England at their adopted home, the UAE before suffering a 2-1 reverse against New Zealand away from home. The biggest setback, however, came in the Asia Cup when they were knocked out from the group stages following defeats against arch-rivals India and Bangladesh.
The batting department seems to be the biggest worry for Pakistan with their hasty recall of Ahmed Shehzad proof that the team management has run out of options. The batting weakness was badly exposed in the losses against India and Bangladesh with the clash against India proving to be a shocker with mindless batting.
The skipper, unfortunately, is leading on this front while his performances with the ball have been mediocre, to say the least. Experts have been calling for his head and the World T20 could very well be his last international outing. Shoaib Malik and Sarfaraz Ahmed seems to be the only reliable options for Pakistan with the likes ok Umar Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez largely inconsistent.
Not only do they lack the batsmen to build an innings, the presence of an X-factor batsman who can take the game away from the opposition single-handedly is missing as well. Mohammad Amir, luckily, provides one for Pakistan in the bowling front. The spell against India in the Asia Cup is enough to showcase how destructive the 23-year-old can be and he has to be on the top of his game if they are to make any progress in the tournament.
Pakistan will need the experienced players like Malik and Wahab Riaz to step up and prove that they belong in the big league. Ahmed Shehzad might not get a bigger opportunity to prove that he can bat as well he talks while Afridi might just have the perfect situation to wind up his international career.
Not many are giving Pakistan a high rating based on their recent performances, but as Malik put it, a 1992 World Cup-esque situation might just be what they need to play fearless cricket and to their full potential.
Pakistan World T20 Squad: Shahid Afridi (captain), Ahmed Shehzad, Sharjeel Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Sarfraz Ahmed, Khalid Latif, Imad Wasim, Anwar Ali, Mohammad Irfan, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Sami.