Monday, 17 January 2011

Pakistan's eye World Cup glory

The cricket World Cup is fast approaching, and one of the teams which must be fancying their chances - regardless of what the 2011 cricket World Cup odds suggest - are Pakistan. Despite having a reputation as something of a surprise package, they certainly have enough in their locker to produce an upset in the same manner as they did in 1992.

As a batting line-up they have plenty of individuals that can win a match on their own. Shahid "Boom-Boom" Afridi showed during the 2009 T20 World Cup that he can be a genuine match-winner when their backs are to the wall, and as well as their more experienced performers, the likes of Umar Akmal are showing that there is a real strength in depth to their batting line-up. In addition, Abdul Razzaq's ability to smash bowling attacks at the end of an innings is second to none - a point highlighted by his incredible 109 runs from 72 deliveries, which included 10 sixes and 7 fours, against South Africa in 2010.

Their bowling attack is still has a formidable, albeit ageing look about it, with 35-year-old Shoaib Aktar leading the line, and despite shortening his run-up, the Rawalpindi Express is still capable of bowling consistent spells upwards of 90 mph. Umar Gul too will be looking to show more of the form he displayed at the last T20 World Cup when his accurate bowling and intelligent use of the slower ball made runs exceptionally hard to come by for their opponents, and Saeed Ajmal will be looking to use variation in both pace and turn.

An interesting factor for the selectors will be the Pakistan Cricket Board's decision to send a list of probable World Cup players to the ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ASCU) so that they can be cleared of any chance of wrong-doing in the wake of the recent spot-fixing scandal before they are allowed to represent their country on the world stage.

Although this approach will no doubt be seen as a step in the right direction, it will not help their chances of lifting the trophy - especially when you consider that Danish Kaneria was not given clearance by the PCB to travel to the UAE for the Test series against South Africa despite being cleared by Essex police of his alleged involvement in a spot-fixing case for Essex earlier this year.

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