Pakistan cricket legends: Born leader Imran Khan, sublime Wasim Akram and more

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Babar Azam

With the World Cup about to start, we have decided to look back at some of the most iconic players to have played the game.

Every era is has at least one truly great player and as we build up to the World Cup 2019, we celebrate these legends and take a look at the current flag-bearers of greatness.

Here, we have picked four players from Pakistan who have left their mark in the history books.

Click here for Australia, England, India and West Indies.

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Imran Khan [1971-1992]

Imran Khan can lay claim to being one of the best all-rounders of all time, certainly the best cricketer in Pakistan’s history and above all, a natural leader. He remains the only captain to have led them to a World Cup title.

Dashing with the bat and a fast bowler par excellence, Khan was remarkably effective and consistent.

After a dismal show in the 1987 World Cup semi-final, the all-rounder announced his retirement from cricket. But the then president of Pakistan Zia-ul-Haq persuaded him to make a comeback.

Just five years later, a 39-year old Khan led Pakistan to its first and only World Cup title. The veteran led a team of fighters to the summit, overcoming an in-form England in the final.

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1992 World Cup

Matches: 8

Innings: 6

Runs: 185

Average: 30.83

Highest: 72

Iconic World Cup innings: 72 v England (Final, 1992)

Aamer Sohail and Rameez Raja – who were in great form – fell prey to Derek Pringle to hand England an early advantage in the final of the 1992 World Cup. Khan decided to take matters into his own hands and made 72 runs en route to a 139-run partnership with Javed Miandad. This captain’s knock helped Pakistan seal the title by 22 runs.

Wasim Akram [1984-2003]

The “Sultan of Swing” is considered by many as the best swing bowler in history. Known for his lethal swerve at pace, Akram formed a formidable duo with Waqar Younis and terrorised the best of batting line-ups at their peak.

Akram was a crucial part of Pakistan’s World Cup win in 1992 and went on to sustain his peak for quite some time. He was the leading wicket-taker in the tournament.

Akram took the reins and led Pakistan to the final of the 1999 World Cup but an overpowering Aussie side prevented them from reclaiming the trophy.

In the 2003 World Cup, the all-rounder became the first player in the world to reach 500 wickets in the 50-over format. He became the leading Test and ODI wicket-taker for Pakistan by the end of his career.


1992 World Cup

Matches: 10

Innings: 10

Wickets: 18

Economy rate: 3.76

Best: 4/32

Iconic World Cup effort: 4/32 against New Zealand (1992)

Pakistan faced a do-or-die match against New Zealand in the round-robin stage. A defeat and Australia’s potential win over West Indies would have sent them packing.

Akram rose to the occasion to power his team to a dominating win with a brilliant game with the ball. He registered fine figures of 4-32, removing Kiwi captain Martin Crowe and the dangerous Andrew Jones in the process.

Shahid Afridi [1996-2017]

An absolute destroyer with the bat and a decisive spinner with the ball, Shahid Afridi emerged during Pakistan’s golden era of world class all-rounders.

Although he was initially selected for his leg-spin, Afridi smashed the fastest century in ODI history in only his second game. This record stood for 17 years until New Zealand’s Corey Anderson broke it in 2014.

For all his memorable years with the Pakistan, he failed to make it count on the biggest stage until the twilight year of his career.

Afridi was the leading wicket-taker of the 2011 World Cup, although 10 of his 21 wickets came against Kenya and Canada.

Regardless of his poor record in the World Cup, Afridi has been one of the most beloved Pakistani cricketers and a true icon of the sport.

Shahid Afridi 1

2011 World Cup

Matches: 8

Innings: 8

Wickets: 21

Economy rate: 3.62

Best: 5-16

Iconic World Cup effort: 5/16 against Kenya (2011)

As established, Afridi has been average in World Cups. He has no iconic performance to boast about but the 5-16 against Kenya could be considered as something close.

Babar Azam (2015-present)

The young Babar Azam is far from being a legend yet, but the promise he has shown tips him to be the torch-bearer of Pakistan’s World Cup campaign.

In 2017, the then 22-year-old completed his fifth ton in just 25 innings to become the quickest to achieve the feat after Quinton De Kock.

Azam has displayed immense maturity and composure for someone so younh and is currently Pakistan’s batting mainstay.

The right-hander is yet to feature in a World Cup game, given he made his debut right after the 2015 World Cup. Anyhow, he will carry Pakistan’s hopes on his shoulders.

BabarAzamPakistanWC (1)


Matches: 65

Innings: 62

Runs: 2739

Average: 51.68

Highest: 125

50s/100s: 12/9


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India cricket legends: From Kapil Dev's brilliance to Virat Kohli's flamboyance

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Kohli will want to preserve India's stronghold at home.

With the 2019 World Cup about to start, we take a trip down memory lane and look at some of the iconic players to have defined eras and earned the title of legends.

From Kapil Dev to Virat Kohli, Sir Viv Richards to Andre Russell and Allan Border to David Warner, the cricketing world has seen some special players create history, raise the bar and then pass the torch to the next superstar.

As we build up to the World Cup, we celebrate those flag-bearers of greatness. Here, we have picked four players from India who have left their mark.

Click here for Australia, Pakistan, England and West Indies.

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Kapil Dev [1978-1994]

The greatest and most decorated all-rounder in Indian history, Kapil Dev holds a special place in the hearts of all Indian fans. The all-rounder led India to its first World Cup title in 1983, playing a crucial role in the process.

He was the leading run-getter for India and fifth overall. The carnage with the bat accompanied some fierce bowling, as he managed to pick up 12 wickets in the tournament.

Known for his lethal out-swinging deliveries and gutsy cameos with the bat in the lower middle-order, Kapil gave the entire subcontinent belief at the world stage. In 1994, he retired as Test cricket’s highest wicket-taker.

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1983 World Cup

Batting stats

Matches: 8

Innings: 8

Runs: 303

Average: 60.6

Highest: 175

Bowling stats

Wickets: 12

Economy rate: 2.91

Best: 5/43

Iconic World Cup innings: 175* v Zimbabwe (1983) 

In a must-win game in the 1983 World Cup, India were reeling at 17-5, having lost openers Sunil Gavaskar and K Srikkanth for ducks. Dev stepped in to hit one of the best innings in a World Cup game, smashing 175 runs from just 138 balls. This helped India register a total of 266, which they defended, thanks to a solid bowling performance by Madan Lal and Roger Binny.

Sachin Tendulkar [1989-2013]

“Master Blaster” Sachin Tendulkar is one of the greatest cricketers of all time, if not the best ever. Until 2011, a World Cup was the only missing feather in his glorious cap.

India came close in the 2003 World Cup, with Tendulkar playing a key role with the bat. But Ricky Ponting’s iconic Australian side brushed India aside in the final to defend their title. The Mumbaikar was the Man of the Tournament but the trophy he yearned was beyond his reach.

In 2011, Tendulkar was once again the leading run-getter for India and this time his team ensured the master finally got to lift the coveted trophy.

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2003 World Cup

Matches: 11

Runs: 673

Average: 61.18

50s/100s: 5/1

Best: 152

Iconic World Cup innings: 98 v Pakistan (2003)

The stage was set at Centurion for one of the biggest encounters in world cricket – India locking horns with Pakistan in a World Cup tie. Tasked to chase 274, India got off to a solid start and a tremendous innings from Tendulkar ensured that they got the better of their rivals in the group stage game. The opener fell just short of a deserved century but with 12 fours and one six en route to his 98, he led India’s run-chase in style.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni [2004-present]

“Captain Cool” will go down as one of the best captains in India’s history. The ever calm and composed wicket-keeper batsman led India to World Cup glory in 2011 at home, thus ending a 28-year wait for the biggest trophy in cricket.

Known for his composed approach in the face of adversity, lightning quick gloves and power-packed hitting, Dhoni is among the World Cup’s elites.

In the 2019 World Cup, Dhoni will play under captain Virat Kohli, symbolising the passing of the torch as he continues to pull strings from behind the stumps.

2011 World Cup

Matches: 9

Runs: 241

Average: 48.2

Highest: 91*

Catches: 7

Stumpings: 4

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Iconic World Cup innings: 91* against Sri Lanka (final, 2011)

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. India did not get to the best of starts while chasing Sri Lanka’s total of 274. Openers Virender Sehwag and Tendulkar were sent packing as India found themselves at 31-2. Dhoni promoted himself up the order, ahead of the in-form Yuvraj Singh in what later turned out to be a masterstroke. The skipper got to the crease at 114-3 and guided India to the summit with a captain’s knock of 91 runs from 79 balls.

Virat Kohli (2008-present)

On February 19, 2011, Kohli became the first Indian player to score a century on World Cup debut. This majestic performance against Bangladesh was followed by rather underwhelming ones, before he concluded with a crucial 35 (49) against Sri Lanka in the final, forming a steady partnership with Gautam Gambhir.

The aggressive top-order batsman has since established himself as the best of this generation. His 2015 World Cup campaign contained promise, but lacked content after he failed to top his century against Pakistan in the opener.

Kohli will now play his third World Cup and will have the weight of a billion expectations on his shoulders.

2011 & 2015 World Cup

Matches: 17

Runs: 587

Average: 41.93

50s: 1

100s: 2

Iconic World Cup innings: 107 v Pakistan (2015)

Yet again, India got the better of their rivals in a World Cup game thanks to a dominating performance from Kohli.

Kohli scored 107 runs from 126 balls to help his team reach a commanding total of 300 runs, which they had no problems defending.

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South Africa World Cup profile: Hashim Amla's form a worry as Proteas aim to shed 'chokers' tag

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Amla (centre) has been out of form for some time now.

ICC World Cup heartbreak and South Africa have become synonymous with each other ever since the Proteas made their debut in the competition in 1992.

Four times have South Africa failed at the semi-final hurdle with the latest of them coming in the 2015 edition, where they fell to an agonising defeat at the hands of co-hosts New Zealand.

From the dramatic loss to Australia in the semi-final of the 1999 World Cup to being hard done by the Duckworth-Lewis (DLS) method in 1992, South Africa have a history of making a hash of the competition despite the prodigious talents at their disposal.

The current crop led by skipper Faf du Plessis is not short of talent themselves with the Proteas coming into the 2019 ICC World Cup on the back of some impressive results in the 50-over format.

Since their disappointing campaign in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy in England, South Africa have only been beaten once in any bilateral ODI series. Apart from India who prevailed 6-1, South Africa have notched convincing wins over Australia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in that period.

Shedding their tag of ‘chokers’ and advancing to their maiden World Cup final will be top of the agenda for du Plessis’ men in England.

Record: Semi-final 1992, 1999, 2007 and 2015

Squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Aiden Markram, Quinton de Kock (wk), Hashim Amla, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, JP Duminy, Dwaine Pretorius, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Chris Morris, Imran Tahir, Tabraiz Shamsi.

Strength: Pace battery. In Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn and Lungi Ngidi, the Proteas have one of the most fearsome pace arsenals at the World Cup. Rabada is coming off a stupendous IPL campaign while veteran Steyn will be desperate to perform in what is surely his final World Cup.

Weakness: Stalwart Hashim Amla is struggling for form in all three formats with an average of just 16.25 in his last 12 innings across all competitions. With AB de Villiers no more a part of the international setup, the Proteas need Amla back at his best at the top.

Tahir going strong at 40.

Tahir going strong at 40.

Man to watch: Veteran leg-spinner Imran Tahir is showing no signs of slowing down with age. Tahir has been in sensational form for CSK in the IPL this year and will be expected to do plenty of damage in England with wrist-spinners set to play a massive role in the World Cup.

Surprise Package: Rassie van der Dussen has had an excellent start to his international career with a batting average of over 88 after nine ODIs. He could turn out to be the replacement South Africa need down the order for De Villiers.

Verdict: Semi-final

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