World Cup 2019 Review: Pakistan
It was a World Cup campaign of what-ifs for Pakistan. What if they had figured out their team selection properly during the early stages of the campaign? What if they fielded better? What if they hadn't been playing catch-up ever since their decimation at the hands of West Indies?
Despite the increasingly spooky resemblance to their victorious 1992 campaign, a poor performance against West Indies meant that Pakistan were always having to catch up with their net run rate. This ultimately meant that they lost a semi-final place to New Zealand despite finishing with the same number of points.
Wins against England, New Zealand, South Africa, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh were a mix of the sublime and maddening counterbalanced by a scrappy win against Afghanistan and dreadful performances against India and Australia.
The issues with Pakistan ranged from poor fielding to bad team selection. Selecting Shoaib Malik on experience got them nowhere as he returned from a wretched tournament, characterized best by a first-ball duck against India.
Haris Sohail's selection in his place gave returns of two half-centuries in five innings, leading one to wonder why he was not selected earlier.
Babar Azam and the trio of left-arm fast bowlers - Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz and Shaheen Shah Afridi - were Pakistan's best players at this tournament.
Azam scored one of only two centuries by a Pakistan batsman (the other coming from Imam-ul-Haq) and Amir led with 17 wickets, including a maiden five-wicket haul in the ODI format.
Riaz, selected after a gap of two years, returned 11 wickets and was a useful lower-order batsman, and Shaheen Shah Afridi impressed with 16 wickets in five matches.
With Shoaib Malik having retired and the long term futures of Mohammad Hafeez, Wahab Riaz and Sarfaraz Ahmed in doubt, as well as the future of Mickey Arthur as coach, it is unclear how Pakistan progress from here.
However way they move forward, they have several high quality players to work with, and have the potential to be a more consistent team than they are at present. It is imperative that their fielding improves, however.
Also read – World cup winners list