Cricket World Cup 2019 team preview: Pakistan
Pakistan did not cover themselves in glory in the recent 4-0 series defeat to England. Will they put those poor performances to bed by turning up for the ICC Cricket World Cup?
ODI ranking: 6
World Cup wins: 1
Final appearances: 2
World Cup record
Tournament appearances: 11
Ways they can win it
Form is against them – just three wins in their last 20 ODIs heading into the World Cup – but that’s generally a poor indicator when it comes to Pakistan before a major tournament. Sarfaraz Ahmed can draw upon the spirit of 2017 when his side lifted the Champions Trophy on English soil despite being rank outsiders. They’ll need another herculean effort from paceman Hasan Ali, Player of the Tournament two years ago, with the imperious Babar Azam entrusted with holding together a flaky batting unit.
Six times Pakistan have faced India in World Cups, six times they’ve lost. A seventh defeat to their arch-rivals on June 16 at Old Trafford on the way to a group-stage exit would be almost too much to bear, particularly so given the BCCI’s attempt to strong-arm the ICC into excluding Pakistan from the tournament following February’s suicide bombing in Indian-administered Kashmir.
Team professor: Mohammed Hafeez
This could well be a last hurrah for the 38-year-old all-rounder, who has been a calming presence in the Pakistan changing room since his debut 16 years ago. Those who have played with ‘The Professor’ say there are few sharper minds in the game.
Mad dog: Fakhar Zaman
An uncapped, wildcard pick for the 2017 Champions Trophy, Fakhar [right] hit half-centuries in the must-win group match against Sri Lanka and semi-final victory over England before being named Player of the Match for his hundred versus India in the final which included his full repertoire of weird and wonderful strokes. Impressively consistent for a player so unorthodox, he averages 51 in ODIs.
Your next favourite player: Shaheen Afridi
Left-arm, 6ft 6in and quick, Pakistan have unearthed another one. Afridi was catapulted into the national set-up last year, aged 17, after just a handful of professional matches and the beanpole teen has already taken 24 wickets in 14 ODIs at 25.54.
Weak link (by CricViz)
Power hitting. Since the 2017 Champions Trophy only two teams featuring in this World Cup (Bangladesh and Afghanistan) have a lower boundary percentage than Pakistan’s 8.33%*. The addition of Fakhar Zaman to the top of the order has helped but their hitters remain few and far between.
*As of May 2, 2019
Sarfaraz Ahmed (c), Asif Ali, Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Wahab Riaz.
Betfair Exchange odds: 19.0
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First published in issue 20 of Wisden Cricket Monthly. Subscribe here