You never know which Pakistan turns up for any given match. One day they will play like a million dollars and the next look listless. And it is this very trait which makes Pakistan the perennial danger team in ICC events.
The men in green have a good record in ICC events in England, winning the 2017 Champions Trophy and 2009 World T20 title there as well as the 1999 World Cup final. Their most recent success in the 2017 Champions Trophy came after an incredible run to the final – when not many gave them much of a chance – and that too after just about qualifying for the tournament in the first place.
But since that epic win in the final over India – by 180 runs – Pakistan’s ODI record has plummeted. Since the beginning of 2018 and before the start of the England ODI series, they won 10 matches and lost 17 but five of those wins were against Zimbabwe while they lost 5-0 in the UAE to Australia earlier this year and were poor in the Asia Cup late last year.
Things seem to have reached rock bottom after their 4-0 ODI loss to England but that came after Pakistan became the first to post three successive 340-plus scores in one-dayers.
But as has been said numerous times and proven during the 2017 Champions Trophy, never take any Pakistan team lightly.
Record: Champions in 1992
Squad: Sarfraz Ahmed (c and wk), Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Asif Ali, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hasnain, Shaheen Afridi
Strength: The batting line-up right now is in as good form as it can possibly be, having regularly breached the 300-run mark during the ODI series against the Englishmen. Hard-hitter Asif Ali has added extra teeth to a very stable batting line-up that goes deep if Shadab Khan and Imad both feature in the XI.
Weakness: Star leg-spinner Shadab has just recovered from hepatitis and doesn’t have enough miles in his legs. Also, left-arm seamer Mohammad Amir has been selected despite not getting gametime against the Englishmen after contracting chicken pox. So unsure are Pakistan of their bowling, they have parachuted in veteran quick Wahab Riaz at the 11th hour.
Player to watch: Fakhar Zaman is a big match player and when he gets on a roll, scores big hundreds. Pakistan have placed a lot of faith in him and despite a poor Asia Cup, he has the quality to carry the team on his shoulders.
Surprise package: Selectors have taken a huge chance with Mohammad Hasnain as he just recently caught the eye during the PSL and has not been tested long enough in longer formats. But has serious pace and can knock teams over when on full tilt.
Prediction: League phase.
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