Cricket World Cup 2019: Afridi's star rises but Hasan Ali's slump continues in campaign of promise for Pakistan

Waseem Ahmed 19:39 07/07/2019
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Shaheen Afridi had a stellar debut World Cup campaign.

A World Cup campaign which started off on a disastrous note nearly ended in something memorable for Pakistan with the Men in Green missing out on semi-final qualification by a whisker.

In the end, it was an inferior net run-rate compared to New Zealand which proved to be the undoing for Sarfraz Ahmed although they did manage to end the campaign with four wins on the bounce.

Five wins, three losses and a no-result against Sri Lanka was the final report card for Pakistan in a campaign that was eerily similar to their 1992 title run.

Here, we review the performances of the Men in Green.

HIGH

Nobody really gave Pakistan any chance in their clash against England following their seven-wicket demolition at the hands of West Indies in their campaign opener.

However, in a pulsating battle at Trent Bridge, Sarfraz’s men stunned tournament favourites England by 14 runs following a whirlwind 84 off just 62 deliveries by veteran Mohammad Hafeez.

Hafeez’s blitz helped Pakistan put up a mammoth 348-8 on the board and the side held on for a win despite tons from Joe Root and Jos Buttler for the hosts.

What made the win ever more special was the fact that Pakistan had been whitewashed 5-0 by England in an ODI series preceding the World Cup.

LOW

While they did taste a crushing loss against arch-rivals India, it was Pakistan’s extraordinary collapse against the Windies that takes the cake.

Batting first in what was their campaign opener, Pakistan were bowled out for just 105 runs inside a mere 22 overs in a shambolic performance at Trent Bridge.

The batsmen failed to cope with a barrage of bouncers from the Windies pacers led by Andre Russell in a meek capitulation that cost the team dearly in the end.

The resultant negative net run-rate was humongous and the Men in Green were unable to offset it despite the rousing second half.

STAR PERFORMERS

Babar Azam

The classy right-hander’s reputation was enhanced with a stellar campaign that saw him score a total of 474 runs with the help of one ton and three half-centuries.

His run tally is now the highest by any Pakistan batsman in a single World Cup edition and surpassed the previous best of 437 by Javed Miandad in 1992.

Whenever he scored at least 50 runs, Pakistan ended up winning the game and he seems destined for greatness.

Haris Sohail

The left-handed batsman was dropped from the playing XI after just one game following Pakistan’s loss to Windies but he returned with a bang with back-to-back half centuries.

Sohail’s excellent 89 set up Pakistan’s win over South Africa in a tricky chase while his 68 against New Zealand also turned out to be a vital one. He should now be a lock-in for a middle-order spot going forward for Pakistan.

Babar and Sohail were Pakistan's two best batsmen.

Babar and Sohail were Pakistan’s two best batsmen.

Mohammad Amir

The left-arm pacer had a miserable last two years in ODI cricket and was not even part of the initial 15-man squad for the World Cup but his selection turned out to be a masterstroke in the end.

Amir led the pace attack brilliantly with a 17-wicket haul across the tournament while going at an economy-rate of under five runs an over. His experience shone through in the end and he was at his very best against Australia against whom he picked up 5-30 at Taunton.

BIGGEST DUDS

Shoaib Malik

It was not the end to his ODI career the veteran had envisioned with his poor displays seeing him ultimately drop out of the playing XI.

The 37-year-old could only score eight runs in three innings including ducks against India and Australia. He was rightly replaced by Sohail in the second half of the campaign.

A disappointing end to Malik's ODI career.

A disappointing end to Malik’s ODI career.

Fakhar Zaman

Plenty was expected from the explosive opener after his heroics in England in the 2017 Champions Trophy but he failed to deliver the goods bar a scratchy half-century in a losing cause to India.

He aggregated only 186 across eight innings in a performance well below par for a batsman of his standard. Has been off-colour for a while now.

Hasan Ali

The biggest disappointment with the ball for Pakistan was undoubtedly Hasan Ali who is declining at an alarming rate after a sensational start to his ODI career.

The pacer picked up just the two wickets in four outings and was expensive as well with an economy-rate of nearly eight runs an over. He was dropped from the playing XI after conceding 84 runs against India and never got a look in again in the tournament.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

Shaheen Afridi

One of the biggest positives for the Men in Green was the stellar debut World Cup campaign of the young pacer who picked up 16 wickets in just five appearances at an average of just 14.62.

The teenager was sensational at Lord’s against Bangladesh where he picked up a memorable five-wicket haul and his meteoric rise in international cricket continues. The left-armer has a very bright future ahead of him and should become a mainstay very soon.

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