ICC Champions Trophy: Pakistan, mavericks eye resurgence
Pakistan’s preparation has been far from good so far. The team selection too has been questionable. Pakistan have recalled former captain Azhar Ali but surprisingly dropped Kamran Akmal who was the leading run scorer of the Pakistan Super League.icc champions trophy 2017 Updated: May 28, 2017 10:45 IST
Since January, 2016, Pakistan have played 19 matches and won only eight of them. Pakistan are currently fifth in the ICC rankings, behind South Africa, Australia, India and New Zealand.
In the six ODI series Pakistan have played since January 2016, they have only won against West Indies twice (3-0 in the UAE and 2-1 in the Caribbean earlier this year) and once against Ireland (1-0 away). Both however are lower-ranked teams. Crushing losses to higher ranked teams like New Zealand (0-2), England (1-4) and Australia (1-4) have dented Pakistan’s ODI standings.
- ICC ODI ranking: 8
- ODI performance 2016-17: Played 19, won 8, lost 11 (Since Jan 2016)
In fact, Pakistan had qualified by the skin of their teeth after they were locked in a three-way battle with Bangladesh and West Indies for the seventh and eighth spots of the ICC rankings. Only the top eight play in the Champions Trophy.
When the ICC rankings were released on September 30, 2015 --- the deadline for Champions Trophy qualification --- Bangladesh were seventh (96 points) and Pakistan eighth (90). West Indies lost out by two points.
Still eighth, Pakistan risk missing out on direct qualifying for the 2019 World Cup as only the top seven teams, along with the host England, are guaranteed berths. Cut-off date for the World Cup is September 30, 2017.
Champions Trophy track record
Played: 18 Won: 7 Lost: 11
Pakistan have participated in every edition of the Champions Trophy but are the only other side apart from England to win it. They reached the semifinal stages on three occasions — 2000, 2004 and 2009 — but have also been knocked out in the group stages thrice — 2002, 2006 and 2013. Pakistan’s preparation has been far from good so far. The team selection too has been questionable. Pakistan have recalled former captain Azhar Ali but surprisingly dropped Kamran Akmal who was the leading run scorer of the Pakistan Super League.
Pakistan start their Group B campaign against India on June 4 before South Africa (June 7) and Sri Lanka (June 12).
Mohammad Hafeez: He was the highest run-getter for Pakistan on the recently concluded tour of West Indies with 201 runs at an average of 67. In good nick of late, Hafeez was instrumental behind Federal Areas lifting the Pakistan Cup, their domestic List A tournament. He scored 372 runs in five matches besides chipping in with three wickets in the final to be adjudged player of the tournament.
Shoaib Malik: The veteran allrounder is one of the most consistent batsmen in the side at the moment and will want to continue that in the ICC Champions Trophy as well. He was the second highest run-getter for Pakistan on the tour of West Indies, scoring at an average of 81.5 in three matches to be adjudged the man-of-the-series.
Mohammed Amir: Since his comeback after the spot-fixing controversy, Amir has taken 25 ODI wickets at an average of 30.28 and has been extremely impressive. In English conditions, where the ball is likely to move around a bit, Amir will be handful against any batting line-up. A glimpse of what he’s capable of was evident during the 20-over Asia Cup in Dhaka where he had rattled the Indian top-order by toppling three wickets for just eight runs.
Squad: Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Azhar Ali, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Fakhar Zaman, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Fahim Ashraf, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan, Shadab Khan