Pakistan faces a simple equation from here on in, win all matches and count on England to lose another to get through to the next round. If the parallels being drawn with 1992 are to be believed, then Pakistan is winning again today. But as Nadeem Farooq Paracha said, 1993 saw an ouster of government so maybe the similarities being drawn by many on social media should not go too far.
New Zealand and India have been the teams of the tournament thus far. They both remain unbeaten and seem favourites to lift the trophy. Pakistan however plans to change this record of New Zealand’s and finds itself in a situation where it knows how to play best, pushed into a corner with no option but to fight for dear life. For Pakistan to succeed in getting out of this corner, they will have to improve on a wide array of things none more than their catching. Seven dropped catches might be enough to lead any team to defeat but Pakistan was lucky to hang on against South Africa. New Zealand however will not be this kind.
Secondly, Pakistan’s top three batsman need to step up and need to give their team a solid platform. A hundred is due from them now and this might be the best time to get it. All three need to avoid the kind of brain fade Fakhar had against South Africa i.e. avoid playing bad shots to get out after getting a good start. In the bowling department Pakistan is struggling to find a reliable third seamer. Hassan and Shaheen have been both expensive and have lacked penetration which is why Hasnain is expected to play today in Shaheen’s place. If Hasnain does make the cut, one hopes he does prove to be the surprise package was touted to be. The main stake of Pakistan’s pace attack continue to be two bowlers who weren’t even in the squad to begin with. Maybe the selectors really do know better!
Wickets up front with the ball, partnerships up front with the bat and sharp and energetic fielding remain the key for Pakistan. Pretty basic but it holds true. Once again, the mental aspect of the encounter matters most and this is where Pakistan really need to be strong. Led by Kane Williamson, the Kiwis look like a strong side and will not be push overs. Pakistan will really need to be at their best to give the Kiwis even a fight.
Prediction: Logically New Zealand on recent form. Gut feeling, Pakistan! New Zealand are due a bad game and this might be it. Fingers crossed (yet again, like always!).