As strong as ever

February 1, 2015

Pakistan might not begin as title favourites in the World Cup but their fans shouldn’t be pessimistic and hope for the best from their team

As strong as ever

Pakistan’s squad for World Cup 2015 is as strong and experienced as it has ever been with regard to batting. The batting order is a fine blend of youth and experience like it was back in 1992 when the quadrennial event was last held Down Under.

Skipper Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan can be expected to play the role that was played by Imran Khan and Javed Miandad 23 years ago. This is not their fifth World Cup appearance, as 1992 event was for both Imran and Miandad, but their experience is no less great.

Younis has more experience of ODI cricket than Miandad had in 1992, while Misbah almost equals the experience of Imran. It must be remembered here that Imran played more as a batsman in 1992 than as a bowler.

And both of them are in great form. By scoring a century against New Zealand in the fourth match of the recent ODI series, Younis made it clear that he remains a force to be reckoned with.

By equaling Viv Richards’ record of fastest Test century, Misbah showed that he is not a batsman to be reserved for Test cricket.

His statistics prove the accusation that he is a slow scorer completely groundless. He has hit as many as 146 sixes across all three formats of international cricket, surpassing Mohammad Yousuf, Saeed Anwar and Ijaz Ahmed all of whom played much more cricket than him.

Just as Imran and Miandad guided the team to a defendable total against England in the final in Melbourne, Misbah and Younis can take the team to the top of the world with their grit and sagacity.

Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad are more experienced than Rameez Raja and Aamer Sohail were in 1992.

Besides, their batting ability more than matches that of the celebrated duo of early 1990s.

Similarly, Umar Akmal has more experience and is more capable than Ijaz Ahmed was when he was picked for the first World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Sohaib Maqsood is very talented and can be expected to play the role that was played by Inzamam-ul-Haq in the semi-final and the final of the 1992 World Cup.

Moin Khan was hugely talented also as a batsman. And his cameo in the semi-final against New Zealand -- he scored 20 off just 11 balls, hitting two fours and one six to win the match for Pakistan -- remains unforgettable.

But this time we have a guy who has everything in him to be the best wicketkeeper-batsman Pakistan ever had. Sarfraz Ahmed is a class part as far as batting talent is concerned.

He has the wonderful ability to score runs quickly even when the team is under pressure. He has proven that he can bat at any position and in any situation.

In Shahid Afridi we have a player who has treasures of experience in the 50-overs format. In experience, he is behind only Jayawardene and Sangakkara among the current players. And during the last four years or so, he has vastly improved as a late-order batsman. He has given many match-winning performances with the bat since 2010. There was no player like him in the 1992 team.

Pakistanis shouldn’t be pessimistic and hope for the best from their team.

As strong as ever