- Sanjay Sanapoori | November 7, 2022 | 10:59 pm
Pakistan are known for their unpredictability. Since their inception they had the knack of winning games from the jaws of defeat, while also losing games from the most dominating positions. This World Cup has been all about their unpredictability. The first half saw Pakistan turn losing positions to winning positions, only to lose in the end.
Against India, in their first game, Pakistan looked down and out when the Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan were dismissed early. The shaky middle-order was tasked with the job of getting something for the bowlers to play with. With little hopes on the middle-order, Pakistan surprised. The under-pressure middle-order took Pakistan to 160, a decent score with the pitch swinging early on. Making use of the early swing, Pakistan got into the most dominant position they’ve been in the game as they had India 4 down for 30 odd. The game was in their hands until Virat Kohli forced Pakistan to take a loss with victory right in front of their eyes.
Against Zimbabwe, Pakistan were expected to win rather easily. The game started well, and as expected, Pakistan dominated with the ball. While batting as well, Pakistan were in a good position, until some slow batting saw them fall agonizingly short, ruining another game with Pakistan on top. Two losses and Pakistan were on the brink. Hopes of qualifying seemed dashed, given the fixtures ahead for them and the other sides.
They still had a fair chance, and were surprisingly left supporting India, when they took on South Africa. South Africa though, beat India, pushing Pakistan deeper into the hole, and leaving them out of qualification discussions. Pakistan needed South Africa to slip up, but South Africa came out and set themselves up as favorites in the tournament with their strong bowling.
With a lot on the line, Pakistan took on South Africa knowing they needed to win, but still needed a lot to go their way. In a battle among fast bowlers, Pakistan this time started to show their other side. In the first half, they looked out and set for defeat, losing four early wickets. However, a fight back from Ifthikar and Shadab Khan took Pakistan to a score, enough to snatch victory from the jaw of defeat. Their tournament was still alive.
The remaining fixtures though left bleak hopes for Pakistan. They needed either India to lose to Zimbabwe or South Africa to lose to Netherlands. Given the strength of both sides, either results seemed very unlikely. The Semi-Finals spots were already being discussed with regards to who India and South Africa are likely to face.
Pakistan however, bought in their unpredictability again. This time, they bought it in from a different side though. Netherlands completed what is probably their best moment in cricket history. They beat South Africa in a World Cup game. Scoring 158, Netherlands fought tooth and nail. They played with a lot of heart, and out of nowhere, with 90 minutes of good cricket, and the famous C word making a comeback for South Africa, Netherlands won, eliminating South Africa.
The upset turned the Pakistan vs Bangladesh fixture into a quarter-final, which Pakistan won, completing a spectacular turnaround to make it to the Semi-Finals. Their entry into the Semi-Finals is as shocking as it could be, and now, after all the drama around, the tournament is right in their hands.
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Back in 1992 as well, Pakistan won in the most unpredictable fashion. They had only three points after five games but went on to win three in a row to make the Semi-Finals. After making the Semis, the tournament was all theirs as they dominated with the ball to win the Semis and Finals, against New Zealand and England, giving them a World Cup win in Australia. It was a surprise as an Asian team winning a World Cup in Australia and New Zealand seemed rather unlikely. Good bowling from Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram along with Imran Khan’s captaincy helped them achieve the unthinkable though.
Now, in 2022, in a different format, Pakistan face New Zealand in another World Cup Semi-Final in Australia. On the other side are India and England, who Pakistan has faced in tournament Finals in 2007 and 1992 respectively. A win takes them to Melbourne, the venue of their first World Cup win. Both tournaments had a lot of parallels and the biggest of them all is unpredictability. In both cases, their bowling was as good as ever. With their bowling strength, they could well go all the way after all the drama that has gone on.