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Why Babar Azam’s down-and-out looking Pakistan are a major T20 World Cup contender

Why Babar Azam’s down-and-out looking Pakistan are a major T20 World Cup contender

Pakistan are the most consistent team in T20 World Cup history, making the semifinals or better in six of the eight editions.

Tumultuous times for the Pakistan cricket team ahead of the T20 World Cup. Captains, coaches, doctors, and even directors have all come and gone in the past few months. Unfortunately, the mess on the field isn’t much better. Their performance in their preferred format, T20Is, has been woeful.

Captain changes; form doesn’t

The 2022 T20 World Cup finalists aren’t even considered top contenders by most. Pakistan have an abysmal 5-8 win/loss T20I record in 2024. This includes a 1-4 drubbing away from home against New Zealand in January, after which Shaheen Shah Afridi was removed as their T20I skipper. Babar Azam then returned as skipper, but the results haven’t been much better since.

In April, they faced New Zealand once again, this time at home. Facing what can be labeled an ‘F’ side, they settled for a draw. They faced Ireland earlier this month and lost the opener, but managed to save grace (2-1 win). Then came the latest disappointment. 0-2 series defeat to England.

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T20 World Cup: Pakistan’s to win?

What makes the Men in Green dangerous is their unpredictability. You see, Pakistan has a long history of doing the unexpected. Whether it be their 1992 World Cup run, where they made the semifinal due to a rained-off game and went on to win their first ICC title. They did something similar at the T20 World Cup 2009, having finished second in their groups twice and winning the title. However, to pull off what seems like a miraculous title run, they’ll go get things in order. Starting with:

Pace bowling: Their strength has never been posting big totals. They’ll need their pacers to do the heavy lifting in the T20 World Cup as well. Right now, Naseem Shah and Mohammed Amir don’t seem to be in the best of form, but Haris Rauf and Shaheen Afridi seem to be getting in their groove after injury issues ailing them. They also have Abbas Afridi, who can replace Amir in the XI if needed.

Pakistan Cricket

Babar-Rizwan: In the last England vs Pakistan T20I, the duo returned to open. The two stars have the most runs as an opening partnership in T20Is and would look to continue to score consistently. Their strike rate may be a concern, but given how Pakistan’s middle order has been performing, it’ll not be something they’ll fret over.

Spinners return: Pitches in the USA might not offer much turn, but the Caribbean will aid the turners. They have Imad Wasim, who’s an incredibly defensive bowler, and Abrar Ahmed’s googly-dominated leg spin, but they’ll hope one of the best white-ball performers, Shadab Khan, comes back to form. They have two valuable part-timers, Saim Ayub and Iftikhar Ahmed, as well.

Pakistan squad for T20 World Cup

Babar Azam (c), Abrar Ahmed, Azam Khan (wk), Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Abbas Afridi, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Naseem Shah, Saim Ayub, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Khan.

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