Pakistan has the tendency to bounce off any adversity and often surprise the world in cricket. Their win in the 1992 World Cup was the biggest case in point. Everything looks dead and buried for the side in the middle of the tournament and they were one game away from being knocked out. Instead, they had not only lifted themselves well but also gone on to win that cup. The side has the propensity to win in the most unlikely of scenarios.
One gets the sense that the side needs a leader who can bind the team together like glue. In Shahid Afridi, one may have a small percentage of what Imran Khan was once for the side, but they need something much more. Already Afridi has been involved in far too many controversies to be liked by all within the side and if there is the one issue that the side could have is their lack of unity.
Pakistan were going to host the World Cup along with India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. And then the security situation deteriorated so badly in the country that not only were the hosting rights of the World Cup snatched away from them, but there has also not been too much cricket played in Pakistan since. The World Cup will be a perfect opportunity for the side to get together and gain some of the lost mileage back by stringing together some good results.
Often, the off the field issues have threatened to derail the Pakistani team. However, 2010 was an exception. Not only did the controversies had the better of the team, things had come to such a stand that there was a good chance that the Pakistan Cricket Board could have received sanctions from the ICC for allowing corruption to continue to rule the roost. Match-fixing is a big issue that could still exist and cause much concern amongst the fans.
Pakistan have won the World Cup once before and that came in 1992. Apart from that win, they have been the losing finalists in 1999 when they were crushed by the ruthless Aussies, while entering the semi-finals in 1979 and 1987. In 1996, they were eliminated by India in a quarter-final battle in Bangalore, while in 2003 and 2007 they were shocking ousters from the first round of the competitions. Unfortunately for them, they have never won against arch-rivals India in the World Cup.
As things currently stand, Shahid Afridi will captain the side but one can never tell with Pakistan cricket. The PCB has already asked the ICC for approval for the list of players it can choose and it will be difficult to predict who gets to lead the side.
Abdul Razzaq is the one all-rounder who has shown a sense of adaptability to any situation and he will be the one to carry his side’s hopes. Apart from Afridi, the other player who could do well is Umar Gul with his ability to bowl the yorker-length deliveries towards the end of the innings.