Pakistan-Team-Preview
Pakistan enter the ICC World Cup 2015 on the back of wins in both their warm-up matches © Getty Images

Pakistan is one of the most dangerous sides in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. They have match-winners, who at their best can help Pakistan beat most teams on their day . By winning both of their warm-up ties, Pakistan have sent the rest of the World a strong message prior to the commencement of the ICC World Cup 2015. Varun Arora looks at the strengths, weaknesses and key players of Pakistan.

Pakistan have managed to win both of their warm-up encounters against Bangladesh and England. On both occasions, Pakistan were asked to chase par totals and they did that with a few hiccups on the way. The Pakistan unit would be feeling fresh and galvanized after the two warm-up wins and would be ready for the challenge ahead. Pakistan will miss the services of Mohammad Hafeez who was sent back home after an injury. Left-handed opener, Nasir Jamshed has been drafted in place of Hafeez, while, injured fast bowler Junaid Khan was replaced by Rahat Ali. Saeed Ajmal, who was cleared to bowl by the International Cricket Council (ICC) is still waiting on the sidelines as his participation is unlikely.

Strengths: Pakistan will rely heavily on their bowling department to do well at the ICC World Cup 2015. With the likes of Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Irfan, Sohail Khan, Rahat Ali and Ehsan Adil the Pakistan bowling attack looks formidable. Irfan was brilliant with the ball in the warm-up game against Bangladesh, where he picked up a five-wicket haul. Rookie pacer Sohail Khan was also among the wickets during the warm-up matches, which is a positive sign ahead of the tournament. The pace bowling unit of Pakistan is complemented with the spinning duo of Shahid Afridi and Yasir Shah. Yasir did really well in the warm-up games as he picked up five wickets. Pakistan’s bowling unit is a force to reckon with, even without the likes of Mohammad Hafeez and Saeed Ajmal, who unfortunately won’t be taking part in the mega event.

Weaknesses: Pakistan’s batting has let them down on innumerable occasions and is one of the major concerns for Pakistan heading into the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. On the face of it, the batting looks impressive but the entire batting unit has generally flattered to deceive, collapsing regularly, at the most inopportune moments. In their last few ODIs, the batting unit has been extremely inconsistent. The top-order has failed to deliver more often than not, which has put immense pressure on the middle-order and has frequently led to a collapse. If Pakistan can achieve more consistency on the batting front, they can possibly emerge as one of the dangerous sides in the World Cup.

Key Players: Misbah-ul-Haq, Afridi and Younis Khan are the experienced warhorses part of the Pakistan line-up for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. All of them have different roles to play for the team and to a great extent, Pakistan’s fortunes are directly linked to the trinity of Misbah, Afridi and Younis firing on all cylinders. Misbah is like a pillar in the middle-order, he will play the role of a sheet-anchor. While Younis and Afridi come with a truckload of experience and their contributions would go a long way in determining how far Pakistan progress at the ICC World Cup 2015.

Pakistan squad for ICC World Cup 2015: Misbah-ul-Haq (c), Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Shahid Afridi, Ahmed Shehzad, Nasir Jamshed, Younis Khan, Haris Sohail, Umar Akmal, Mohammad Irfan, Rahat Ali, Ehsan Adil, Sohaib Maqsood, Yasir Shah, Sohail Khan, Wahab Riaz.

(Varun Arora is a reporter with CricketCountry. He started as a medium-fast bowler, converted to an opening batsman, but finally settled with his passion of writing about the game. His Twitter handle is @varunjgd)