This summer will be nothing less than a dream for cricket fans. Cricket World Cup being held in England, what else can one wish for?
And after 27 years, the World Cup returns to the round-robin format where each team will face one another, reducing the teams to 10 this time.
This news received a lot of criticism, from almost all the fans, for not featuring any associate team and many called it as a step towards the overall existential threat to cricket. A small minority of fans argue this will create more buzz and entertainment as all the top teams will be playing without the fear of an ‘upset’ happening during the group stage matches. The TV channels will be able to garner more rating and viewers. Avoiding dead rubber matches also strengthens the argument.
On the flip side, where all sports federations look forward to expanding their operations wherever they can, ICC made a terrible decision to leave out the associate teams. But what’s done is done, we can only hope for a World Cup that will not be forgotten any time soon.
Since Mickey Arthur’s arrival in 2016, there has definitely been a shift in approach in tackling ODI cricket and playing or at least trying to be at par with top teams. Pakistan became the number one test playing nation for a very brief time but looking at the principles at which PCB operates, this was nothing short of a miracle. In 2017, under Sarfraz’s captaincy, Pakistan did what is expected of it; winning the Champions Trophy. Pakistan is still the number one T20 team, winning 11 consecutive series, which is a record in itself.
In the last year, it can be said that their ODI performances had been a mixed bag. Losing 5-nil against New Zealand and 3-2 against South Africa doesn’t inspire much confidence, either. Asia Cup shouldn’t even be discussed if you’re a loyal Pakistani team’s fan.
But the biggest surprise was Pakistan getting whitewashed at Australia’s hands, that too in the UAE. Surprisingly, the batsmen scored 5 centuries in total which is not our strongest suit. On the contrary, the bowlers struggled big-time. And without Hassan, Shaheen, and Shadab, the bowling attack seemed to lack venom.
With less than 2 months left, the management still isn’t sure of the 2 fast bowlers who’ll be going as the back-ups. Asif Ali might’ve booked his ticket to England after Umar Akmal’s shitshow against Australia. Now, only if Asif can show a bit more maturity and responsibility, half our problems would be solved.
All the top teams have hitters at number 7 barring Sri Lanka. Maxwell, Pandya, Buttler, Miller, Corey Anderson, all are more than capable of turning around the match on their own. Pitches in England are not seam-friendly anymore, and with two new balls from each end, there’ll be batting paradises everywhere.
Credit should also be given to the PCB for creating a very reasonable schedule. With 5 matches against England, we can hope Pakistan can pick up their right combination and momentum right when it is needed.
With the right balance between batting and bowling, India, Australia, South Africa, and England are the favorites. Leaving Pakistan out might be the hardest thing for any Pakistani fan but it is also a known fact that Pakistan’s biggest strength is their unpredictability. Pakistan will be banking its hopes on Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, and Babar Azam to take them home.
1. Fakhar Zaman
3. Babar Azam
4. Shoaib Malik
5. Muhammad Hafeez
6. Harris Sohail
7. Sarfraz Ahmad
8. Asif Ali
9. Imad Wasim
10. Faheem Ashraf
11. Shadab Khan
12. Hasan Ali
13. Shaheen Shah Afridi
14. Usman Shinwari
15. Muhammad Amir
Now, let’s keep our fingers crossed for what’s to come next.