Photo Credit: Pakistan Cricket Board
The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup is well underway, with the next stage of the event starting tomorrow, where Pakistan will enter the competition.
Last year’s beaten semi-finalists have an outstanding record in the Men’s T20 World Cup and find themselves right among the favourites again this time around in Australia.
And ahead of their Super 12 opener against rivals India on Sunday – we look at the Pakistan team in focus.
Pakistan have been drawn in Group 2 of the Super 12s, alongside India, South Africa, Bangladesh, they have also been joined by the Netherlands from the First Round and the final team will be decided today.
In order to back up last year’s efforts, where they suffered defeat to eventual winners Australia in the semi-final, they will need to finish in the top two of their group.
They come into the tournament in form though, winning four of their five matches in the tri-series with New Zealand and Bangladesh and although they ultimately suffered a 4-3 defeat in the seven-match T20 series with England, there were plenty of performances in there to please head coach Saqlain Mushtaq.
There is no doubt that Pakistan will be among the front runners and will be expecting to advance past the Super 12s and into the semi-finals once again – although clashes with South Africa and India will be tough.
T20 World Cup history
Pakistan’s Men’s T20 World Cup history is nothing short of outstanding, reaching the semi-finals in five of the seven editions.
They reached the final of the inaugural competition in South Africa in 2007, losing by just five runs to India after Gautam Gambhir’s 75 inspired the Indian side to victory.
Two years later, they were the side lifting the trophy, with Shahid Afridi’s unbeaten 54 and Abdul Razzaq’s three for 20 seeing Pakistan to an eight-wicket victory over Sri Lanka at Lord’s.
Despite their excellent record, that is the last time Pakistan reached the final, suffering back-to-back semi-final defeats in 2010 and 2012 against Australia and Sri Lanka respectively.
The 2014 World Cup saw Pakistan miss out on the semi-finals for the first time, and in 2016 they again missed out, meaning a long five year wait until last year’s tournament in the UAE and Oman – in which they reached their first semi-final in nine years, but despite Mohammad Rizwan’s 67 and Shadab Khan’s four for 26, they endured yet another semi-final defeat at the hands of Australia.
There are no prizes for guessing Pakistan’s best batter, as he is also the world’s best batter, with Rizwan sitting on top of the ICC MRF Tyres Men’s T20I Player Batter Rankings.
Averaging a phenomenal 52.34, Rizwan has one hundred and 22 fifties from just 62 innings, with a recent 69 in the win over Bangladesh last week showcasing his form heading into the T20 World Cup.
That bodes well for the Super 12s, with Pakistan facing Bangladesh, while against their other key opponents in the Super 12s, India and South Africa, Rizwan averages an outrageous 96.5 and 62.16 respectively.
Rizwan has formed what is surely the best opening batting pairing in world cricket with Babar Azam, who himself sits third in the current MRF Tyres T20I batting rankings.
Pakistan’s captain averages 43.66, slightly less than Rizwan, but he has racked up two hundreds and 29 fifties and like Rizwan, comes into the World Cup in excellent form, scoring 55 in that victory over Bangladesh, while also scoring his second T20 international hundred against England, scoring 110 as Rizwan hit 88 not out in a ten-wicket victory.
Pakistan may have two of the best batters on the planet, but they are not short of outstanding bowling as New Zealand and Bangladesh recently found out.
Haris Rauf and Shadab Khan are two to really keep an eye on, but there is plenty of bowling in the Pakistan line-up, with Mohammad Wasim and Mohammad Nawaz in particular on top form in recent weeks and Shaheen Shah Afridi coming back from injury for this tournament.
Haris is a man who will strike fear into top order batters around the globe though, averaging just 23.03 and taking 64 wickets in his 50 matches, but he is joined by Pakistan’s extraordinary young all-rounder Shadab.
Just 24, Shadab has already been a major part of the Pakistan team with both bat and ball for a number of years, taking 87 wickets at an average of 22.29 since his debut five years ago and he is once again going to be a key member of the side, with his leg breaks proving incredibly effective.