Monday, May 20, 2019

Pakistan is ready for the World Cup

So the dress rehearsal for Pakistan is over and the main event starts in 10 days. A 4-0 loss to England does not read well for a Pakistan fan, especially when it follows a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Australia.

But bear in mind that Pakistan lost 4-0 to the number one ODI team in the world and had it not been for dropped catches and some misfields, the scoreline would have been quite different.

Pakistan have now lost their last 10 ODIs and have won only 2 of their last 15 ODIs with one rained out.

Despite this losing streak there are plenty of positives that Pakistan can drive from the just concluded series in England. And also answer some questions regarding the make up of their World Cup squad and first XI.

Here's a look at some of the positives from my perspective.

The Batting is Looking Really Good!
The series against England was a runathon! Pakistan became the first team to score three consecutive scores above 340. England followed suit and then did one better by becoming the first team to score four consecutive totals of above 340.

This was the highest scoring ODI series ever.

What it showed however, is that Pakistan's batsmen are right up there! Sarfraz promised before leaving for England that his team had the ability to score 350 in ODIs and they showed that in every single game.

Pakistan will now go into the World Cup with all their batsmen in form and with some confidence that they possess one of the best ODI top orders in the game.

No seriously, no other team in the world has a top four with each batsman averaging 47 or more, with three of them averaging above 50. To top that, Pakistan has the batsman with the world's highest ODI average ever at present.











































Sarfraz Ahmed has finally found his Mojo!
Pakistan captain's 97 off 80 deliveries in the final ODI was not only his first fifty and his highest score in a long long time, I reckon it was also one of the best innings of the series for Pakistan considering he walked in at 6-3 and took it to England in a valiant effort to chase down 350 odd.

Sarfraz is back!

This is what he can do when he bats higher up the order and number 5 is probably the best position for him.

In fact, it is the best position! His average and strike rate when batting at 4 or 5 is the best relative to other positions. He does not do as well lower down. At 4 or 5, he is even better than he is when opening!


An in-form and confident captain will be a blessing for Pakistan!

The Bowling is not All That Bad!
Pakistan's bowlers took a beating at the hands of England's bowlers and they received a lot of criticism from all corners too.

But was it really that bad considering the batting havens England produced for the ODIs?

I mean, even the England bowlers were thrashed! In one game, Pakistan fell short of 373 by an agonizing 12 runs; in another England chased down 340 odd with 3 balls to spare; and in the final game Pakistan's number 10 and 11 smashed 47 runs in a little over 6 overs.

I don't hear any criticism of the English bowlers.

If anything, Pakistan's Bowling is Set to Improve!
Shadab Khan is expected in England any time now, and Mohammad Aamir is expected to join the World Cup squad too.

Their inclusion will undoubtedly improve Pakistan's bowling.

Shadab is one of the best bowlers for the middle overs of an ODI. He not only keeps the scoring rate low, he also picks up wickets. His addition will be a definite boost, not only to the bowling but to the fielding as well.

Even though Aamir has not picked up any wickets over the past two years, he has been one of the most economical bowlers in ODIs during this period.

There aren't many pacers in the world with an economy rate below 5 in this day and age, and surely that will count for something during the World Cup, which will be played on the flattest pitches ever.



So despite all the ODI losses, all is not lost and this series against England has provided valuable practice to Pakistan.

Last week, I mentioned that I foresee Aamir and Asif Ali making the World Cup squad in place of Faheem Ashraf and Abid Ali. Inzamam Ul Haq is going to announce the squad this afternoon, and I believe these two changes will definitely happen.

There maybe another change as Junaid Khan does not seem like someone you want to take to the World Cup after the series he has had.

Only 10 days remain to the World Cup, and 11 days to Pakistan's opening game against the West Indies and even after 10 successive ODI losses, this Pakistan cricket fan has his hopes up really high!

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