Unpredictably is both Pakistan’s strength and weakness. They have often come close to winning, but inconsistency has let them down in key clashes. After winning the World Cup against all odds in 1992 in Australia, they faltered under pressure in the quarter-finals against India in 1996. They had a great opportunity to win in 1999, but came runners up in the final on the big day at Lord’s. In 2011, they again faced India in the semi-finals, but were outdone by the arch-rivals once more. Can Pakistan reverse the trend in 2015?
Looking at Pakistan’s squad for the 2015 World Cup, they wouldn’t go in as one of the favourites. They have been dealt a big blow with Saeed Ajmal being ruled out since his bowling action wasn’t cleared in time. Although the ICC has cleared him now, he can only get in if someone gets injured. Without Ajmal, and with Junaid Khan also being ruled out, Pakistan are extremely green in the bowling attack. They have better experience in the batting department, but most of them are on the wrong side of 30s; their skipper Misbah Ul Haq is actually 40 plus, which is a cause of concern for sure.
Shahid Afridi: In the absence of some big players, Afridi would really have to stand up and deliver. He can fire with the bat and well as the ball on his day, and is an electric fielder as well. But, inconsistency has been Afridi’s biggest problem for nearly two decades. Having gained so much experience, it is imperative for Afridi to play a pivotal role in the team’s World Cup campaign. This being his last World Cup, Afridi would be keen to bow out on a high.
Younis Khan: The veteran batsman has been in and out of the one-day side recently. But, his Test form has been so sensational that the selectors were forced to draft him back into the ODI side. As stated earlier, Pakistan are low on experience, and hence they would be depending heavily on Khan to anchor the innings, playing the big knocks, and consistently at that.
Wahaz Riaz: ThePakistan bowling attack doesn’t have any big names who have proved themselves at the international level. In that sense, left-arm seamer Riaz will be crucial for the team’s cause, more so with Ajmal and Junaid not being around. Riaz has previous World Cup experience; he took a five-for in the semi-final against India at Mohali in 2011, which Pakistan eventually lost. He can draw confidence from the same.
Squad: Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Ahmed Shehzad, Ehsan Adil, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Irfan, Rahat Ali, Sarfraz Ahmed, Shahid Afridi, Sohaib Maqsood, Sohail Khan, Umar Akmal, Wahab Riaz, Yasir Shah, Younis Khan
February 15 vs India at Adelaide Oval
February 21 vs Pakistan at Christchurch
March 1 vs Zimbabwe at Brisbane
March 4 vs UAE at Napier
March 7 vs South Africa at Auckland
March 15 vs Ireland at Adelaide Oval
--By A Cricket Analyst