It is 27 years since Pakistan won the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup for the first time and this year feels like it did back then. No one gave us a chance and we arrived as the underdog. But momentum came and we won the whole thing, that is the beauty of Pakistan cricket.
I was not part of the team because I was injured just before the World Cup but I remember the team coming home. The whole country was out on the streets, the lights were on and we had a trophy parade.
It was party-mode, it was a carnival. Hopefully, that will happen again but there is work to do. The positive for Pakistan is that they have started scoring big totals. They have showed they are capable of scoring 300 plus and we saw that in their series against England.
The batsman have got used to the surfaces very quickly and have piled on the runs. They are all in good form, especially Babar Azam and Haris Sohail. Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq have also done well so the top four looks really good. That issue has been solved.
But the biggest issue for me is the fielding. The bowling is moving in a good direction, with Wahab Riaz coming back into the side and Mohammad Amir restored. I am sure that will get a bit better but if the fielders don’t take their chances and catch balls and stop the extra 15 or 20 runs then they could struggle.
The fielders looked out of sorts in the series against England and that could shake their confidence.
I think Pakistan arrive as underdogs and they need to start well. If they lose a couple of early games, then it will be an uphill task for them after that. If they don’t start well then the negativity from series defeats to England and Australia could seep back in. They have been losing a few games and need to win early so settle nerves.
That first game against the West Indies will be vital. It is will be worth watching that. Both are very exciting teams and very unpredictable, you never know what you are going to get.
Trent Bridge is a flat pitch too so there will be runs and it will be a fun game. I am intrigued to see how Mohammad Amir gets on. He is a match-winner, there is no doubt about that. If he gets some rhythm back, then he could be the difference for Pakistan.
On the flip side, Shaheen Afridi and Mohammad Hasnain are so talented and have long futures ahead of them. I am excited to see what they can do.
Despite everything has gone on in the last couple of months, the country is behind the team. They all believe these guys can win the World Cup. If we can get off to a strong start then you never know, this team has a history of producing magic.
(Column courtesy: ICC Media zone)