Monday 17 March 2014 

ICC World Twenty20 2014 Preview - Pakistan

Shahid Afridi celebrates
Could an in-form Shahid Afridi inspire Pakistan to another ICC World Twenty20 title?
© REUTERS / Action Images
 

At any ICC tournament, specifically in the T20 format, most will pick Pakistan as their first or second favourites.

Keeping in with that tradition, this time too they will head to Bangladesh as one of the favourites to win this title. If not the favourites, then indeed they will be the dark horses to get ahead and lift the silver trophy a second time.

One of the advantages for them will be the Asia Cup experience. This is a team that doesn’t gel well from the beginning. They stutter on and then kick into high gear, and thus having already played in near-similar conditions just a week earlier, they will be very confident going into the tournament.

The other key factor of course their bowling unit. It is in fact one of the most suited to this shortest format of the game.

In Saeed Ajmal they have the world’s most intelligent spinner, someone who likes the challenge of out-thinking batsmen whilst bowling in the death. Then they have Umar Gul and Sohail Tanvir, fine opening and death bowlers in themselves. Mohammad Hafeez and Shahid Afridi can bowl tight spells too, thus lifting the pressure off other younger bowlers.

Afridi might just be the key once again, just like he was in 2009, having run into a bit of hitting form in the Asia Cup. Jokes about his age apart, it was apparent in that ODI tournament that his fitness levels are falling and he will be eager for one last hurrah.

At the same time, he also represents the one fear Pakistan fans will have about their team. While they will expect the very best foot forward from these cricketers, it is anybody’s guess if the Pakistan team will get up from the right side of the bed, or not.

Recent Form

2013 – LWWWL

20th November – Lost to South Africa by four runs in Johannesburg
22nd November – Beat South Africa by six runs in Cape Town
8th December – Beat Afghanistan by six wickets in Sharjah
11th December – Beat Sri Lanka by three wickets in Dubai
13th December – Lost to Sri Lanka by 24 runs in Dubai

Previous Tournament Performances

2007 – Runners-up: Lost to India by five runs in Johannesburg.
2009 – Champions: Beat Sri Lanka by eight wickets at Lord’s.
2010 – Semi-finalists: Lost to Australia by three wickets at Gros Islet.
2012 – Semi-finalists: Lost to Sri Lanka by 16 runs in Colombo.

Fixtures

21st March: versus India in Mirpur, Dhaka.
23rd March: versus Australia in Mirpur, Dhaka
30th March: versus A1 qualifier in Mirpur, Dhaka
1st April: versus West Indies in Mirpur, Dhaka

Squad

Mohammad Hafeez (captain), Ahmed Shahzad, Bilawal Bhatti, Junaid Khan, Kamran Akmal (wicket-keeper), Mohammad Talha, Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi, Sharjeel Khan, Shoaib Malik, Sohaib Maqsood, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul, Zulfiqar Babar

© Cricket World 2014

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