What will happen when luck leaves Pakistan’s side?
Not long ago there was a time in international cricket when the sport was dominated by one or two superpowers vying for the top spot — four-time world champions Australia and two-time holders West Indies have enjoyed their share of supremacy at the top of the game.
However, this time around we are witnessing a relatively new phenomenon where five competitive teams are spearheading to lift the sport’s most prestigious trophy with full zest — Australia, South Africa, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka. This throws the World Cup wide open, not leaving just one or two nations as the favourites like previous years.
Keeping this in mind, it leaves a mammoth task in front of Pakistan given their last debacle against Canada.
Sitting at the top of Group A, recently enlisted as one of the serious contenders to lift the trophy and enjoying the emphatic form of their golden boy Shahid Afridi, it was downright embarrassing to see an associate nation fielding better than your own.
Easy catches were dropped, stumpings missed and boundaries left undefended. Pakistan displayed no qualities or skills that a World Cup favourite ought to posses during their last match. But one thing seems to be working in their direction: luck.
The Pakistan captain is riding the wave of victory and form. He is currently the highest wicket-taker of the tournament with a whopping 14 wickets in just three matches. He is bowling to perfection with some luck siding with him.
But the same can’t be said about Pakistan. They are not performing with the bat and their fielding is abysmal. They continue to win matches because of Afridi and a bit of good fortune coming their way. This is not good enough.
Pakistan continue to suffer from a precariously poised batting line-up. There line-up goes down till number eight but their batting strength only revolves around two strong pillars — vice-captain Misbahul Haq and experienced batsman Younus Khan.
After watching their campaign thus so far, you can safely assume that if either of Misbah or Younus fails to work, the Pakistani batting line-up will collapse – not just against stronger opponents but even the minnows will bundle you out for a paltry 184.
This calls for rapid improvements. If this team is bidding to give serious trouble to the other favourites, they must make sure they field on their toes, their openers click and their middle-order consolidates the entire innings.
I would suggest giving the openers one more chance and if they continue their irresponsible performance, send in Kamran Akmal to open and pull up Umar Akmal in the order. Pakistan’s strongest feature remains their bowling, which they should capitalise with maximum optimality. After seeing how deeply inconsistency is embedded in the team, I think they will have to make extra-ordinary efforts if they want their rivals to see them as a real threat.
But a nation vying to bag the big trophy cannot count on luck to guide them. Luck and can only take you so far. Quarter and semi-finals are a new ballgame altogether. Luck can shy away, performances shouldn’t.
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