ICC World T20 2016: Team Pakistan

History

2007Reached final, lost to India

2009 Won World Cup, beat Sri Lanka in final

2010 Reached Semifinal, lost to Australia

2012 Lost in semis to Sri Lanka

2014 Lost in Group Stages

Pakistan's defeat in 2007 - BookMyShow

In 4 out of the 5 editions so far, the Pakistan T20 team has reached the knockouts. Along with Sri Lanka, they’re the most consistent international team (“consistent”, Pakistan?) – in the sense that they’re almost always in contention at the business end of the tournament. However, they disappointed in 2014, falling to India and West Indies in the group stages. Who can forget the inaugural edition, where Misbah scooped Joginder Sharma in the final over to hand India over the first ever T20 World Cup trophy? And then, redemption in 2009 under Younis Khan, followed by that Saeed Ajmal over in 2010, which Michael Hussey dispatched to all parts when Pakistan had one step in the final. 

Current Form

Captain: Shahid Afridi

It will worry Shahid Afridi that his team failed to reach the Asia Cup final again – this time losing to rivals India and Bangladesh. It will worry him further because of the way the batsmen have performed – crashing to 81 against India, and 130 against Bangladesh, before redeeming themselves somewhat against the weak Lankans. Not the ideal warm-up before their much anticipated World Cup group game against India in Dharamshala – which, according to sources, will be the most watched match of the tournament. No surprises there. But everyone in the team will still feel a little deflated about the infamous Sami over against Mahmudullah and co. a few days ago – in which he single-handedly destroyed Pakistan’s chances by bowling two huge front-foot no balls, after hitting speeds of 150 through the spell.

Weaknesses

Probably the weakest batting line-up out of the 8 top teams in the World Cup. As good as Amir and co. are, the likes of Hafeez and Afridi will find it very tough to inspire a young, inexperienced group of batsmen in the same group as India, Bangladesh, Australia and New Zealand. Not one game is easy, and all of them have bowlers who can trouble Pakistan. Perhaps Amir needs to now work on his batting, too.

Pakistan lost in 2010 - BookMyShow

Strengths

Mohammad Amir, Mohammed Irfan, Mohammad Sami and Wahab Riaz – the pace quartet from hell. Many believe this attack is too one-dimensional (3 left-armers, 1 Sami), but it’s their greatest strength, and a testament to the old Pakistan legacy of consistently producing world-class quicks. Young Amir, who has returned after serving a 5-year ban for spot-fixing, is easily the best left-arm bowler in cricket right now. He showed glimpses of his talent again against India, and proved that he perhaps deserves a better batting and fielding side around him. Except Umar Akmal, who has been in terrific form, and keeper Sarfraz, there is nobody dangerous or intimidating in the batting order anymore. Afridi himself could be playing in his last tournament, at the ripe age of 36. 

Prediction

I don’t see this team going past the Group stages – unless the bowlers’ brilliance outshines the batsmen’s mediocrity. Highly unlikely- and they could find themselves in the bottom 2 of the Group.

 

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