Pakistan have pedigree to repeat 2009 triumph

Updated: 12 September 2014 13:38 IST

When it comes to the ICC World T20, no team can match Pakistan's pedigree.

Pakistan have pedigree to repeat 2009 triumph

Bangalore:

When it comes to the ICC World T20, no team can match Pakistan's pedigree.

Runner-up in the inaugural event in 2007, after Misbah-ul-Haq's attempted sweep over short fine-leg went wrong in the final over, they were a popular winner in front of passionate support in England in 2009.

In the Caribbean a year later, despite indifferent performances in the group and Super Eight stages, they came within a whisker of upsetting Australia, only for a spectacular Michael Hussey heist to deny them in the final over of the semifinal.

Pakistan's greatest asset heading into the tournament is experience. Of the ten players with most caps in Twenty20 Internationals, six are Pakistani. Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal and Kamran Akmal have all played 40 or more games. Afridi leads the way with 50. Misbah, who came so close to snatching victory in that epic 2007 final, is no longer part of the squad, but Mohammad Hafeez, who replaced him as captain, can boast of 34 appearances, at the end of the three-Twenty20 International series against Australia in Dubai that Pakistan won 2-1.

Ajmal (58), Afridi (58) and Gul (57) are also the only bowlers to take more than 50 wickets in the format. With allrounders like Hafeez, Abdul Razzaq and Sohail Tanvir also in the ranks, bowling is clearly Pakistan's strongest suit. They may lack a tearaway fast bowler - Mohammad Sami is not a certainty for the XI - but Ajmal and Gul, in particular, are experts at throttling the scoring rate in the final overs.

Nasir Jamshed is a new addition to the top order, and the batting will need to improve on what are likely to be slow and low pitches. Much depends on Hafeez and the hit-and-miss talent of Imran Nazir first up, with the Akmal brothers, Kamran and Umar, to provide the mid-innings firepower.

Razzaq, who first caught the eye at the 1999 World Cup, is also capable of explosive cameos, but it's the batsmen who have often let Pakistan down in recent times. Since the 2010 World T20, they have won ten and lost 11 games. That included a six-match losing streak in 2010.

Progress out of the group stage in Sri Lanka will not be a formality. Pakistan have won all five T20Is against Bangladesh, but New Zealand has had the edge in recent times despite Pakistan leading 5-3 in the overall head-to-head statistics.

On subcontinent pitches, with the multitude of spin options and the ability of the pace bowlers to summon up variations, Pakistan will be one of the favourites.

But for them to emulate the 2009 campaign, they will need Afridi to rediscover his best form. He was magnificent in both the semifinal and final of that tournament, combining sensible big hitting with the canniest slow bowling. If he can somehow stop the clock and replicate those feats, Pakistan will be there or thereabouts, as they have been at every World T20 till now.



Topics : ICC World Twenty20 2012 Cricket Pakistan New Zealand
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