Predictably unpredictable: Reliving Pakistan's eventful journey in 2018
There's no team like Pakistan in international cricket. The Pakistan cricket team is more unpredictable than the stock market or the Game of Thrones. Every tournament they play, the only ghosts they seem to be fighting against are themselves.
From barely qualifying for the 2017 Champions Trophy to going on to win the tournament just a year later, Pakistan are at their very best after being written off. And mind you that was no fluke because the Men in Green didn't just defeat their opposition. They had decimated hosts England in the semifinals and then obliterated defending champions India in the final.
Amidst expectations of a vibrant show in 2018, Pakistan made a mockery of all predictions by falling to an embarrassing 0-5 whitewash in their tour of New Zealand. Later in the year, their Asia Cup campaign was a horror story in itself.
Pakistan barely managed to cross the Afghanistan hurdle and lost to Bangladesh in what was a virtual semifinal. Aside from those matches, arch-rivals India pummelled them effortlessly in two encounters.
One may wonder what went wrong with the team. Well, this is what the Pakistan cricket team has always been renowned for. You never know when they may start playing like invincible heroes, you never know when they start faltering like bumbling sidekicks. From being lauded just a year back, their fielding has gone back to being amusing.
In the recently completed Test series against New Zealand, Pakistan lost the first Test at Abu Dhabi after being 147/4 at one stage while chasing 176. A collapse was triggered just when you thought they were on their way to victory.
During the second Test match, they defeated the Kiwis by an innings. Certainly, you must have thought that Pakistan have finally woken up. They're not going to go down again.
Pakistan gained a 74-run first innings lead in the third Test match. The New Zealand players were reduced to 60/4 in their second innings. What followed after this was totally unbelievable.
No one in their wildest dreams would've imagined the final outcome. Pakistan ended up conceding a massive partnership before getting rattled by some pinch hitting in the morning session of Day 5.
The Black Caps had ensured they couldn't lose the game from there. Pakistan had two and a half sessions to survive. But guess what. The top order made guest appearances at the crease to leave the team bamboozled at 55/5 by lunch. Eventually, New Zealand wrapped up a series-sealing victory.
Surprised by the outcome? Don't expect a yes from a Pakistani fan because they are so used to this. The twists and turns in a game featuring Pakistan are likely to spin your head more than Christopher Nolan's Inception.
Just like the Australian team held the invincible tag from 1999 to 2007, Pakistan has been synonymous with the term unpredictability. If you've followed Pakistan cricket over the years, you'll understand the eventful plight of their fans.
Supporting Pakistan doesn't come within, you live by it. And it gives you highs and lows, just like life. If you are a Pakistan supporter, the year has not quite come to an end. There's a Boxing Day Test against South Africa at Centurion. Do not hazard a guess as to what lies in store.