This piece is being written as Pakistan stumble towards defeat against Australia in their fourth match at the World Cup. At 215 for 7 in 37.2 overs, it should be safe to assume that there is no way that even Pakistan can get back into this contest. Nevertheless a mistake was made in this space last week, giving Pakistan next to no chance against England – even if the possibility of the other Pakistan showing up was also added as a qualifier.
If Pakistan have indeed lost to Australia by the time you read this, they would have three points in four matches – two from the win against England and one from the washout against Sri Lanka. In effect, that means Pakistan would need to win all of their remaining five matches, beginning with India on Sunday, to be assured of a slot in the semifinals.
Rain has threatened to play spoilsport to a point that by Wednesday, three matches at the World Cup have already been washed out. If rain were a contestant, which it clearly has turned out to be, it would be top of the table on Thursday, along with New Zealand, with three wins.
Following backlash, the ICC has released a statement saying that reserve days could not have been kept for the group matches given the logistical challenges, which would’ve further extended the tournament. That, however, begs the question why the round robin format was decided this time round, which would mean that the 10 teams would play each other before the semifinals.
Not only will rain ruin the World Cup, at some level, given the format a significant number of the contests would end up being redundant, especially in the latter half of the group stages. The dead rubbers will kick in once the teams begin to be knocked out – think about the possibility of the 7th ranked side playing eighth in their penultimate group match. Let’s not forget that the ICC was already criticized for limiting the tournament to 10 sides.
Rain has threatened to play spoilsport, but isn’t responsible for Pakistan’s erratic display at the World Cup
None of that is responsible for Pakistan’s erratic performance at the World Cup so far. They knew beforehand that at least six wins would be needed for any side to qualify for the semifinals with certainty. They have one win with five matches to play.
The primary reasons behind Pakistan’s struggles so far is that they have largely failed in all three departments. Take Mohammed Amir’s bowling in the tournament so far, and Mohammed Hafeez’s innings against England, out of Pakistan’s contribution thus far and the side has absolutely nothing else to show for it.
The much touted top three in the batting, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam have collectively failed at the biggest stage. Hasan Ali and Shaheen Afridi, top of the fast bowling pecking order before the World Cup, have done nothing with the ball. Hasan Ali actually did better with the bat against Australia, while Shaheen Afridi was overlooked in favour of Wahab Riaz in the win against England. That simply means Pakistan’s most touted players going into the World Cup have thus far failed to live up to their inflated billing.
Shoaib Malik has been a liability on the side so far. Had it not been for his ability to roll his arm over for three to four overs, he wouldn’t be anyway near the side. This is not to suggest that the likes of Asif Ali and Haris Sohail have fared any better in the opportunities they’ve had so far.
What’s been especially wretched has been Pakistan’s fielding so far. It depicts a lack of confidence and commitment to the cause.
Pakistan have the ability to turn this around. But they’ll have to start from the must-win contest against a side they’ve never beaten at the World Cup on Sunday.