They are one of only five countries to have ever won the World Cup and while Pakistan are mere sixth favorites to win in 2019, they have a loyal set of supporters in the markets. They are renowned for thrilling, attacking play, both with bat and ball, and it’s an approach that should bring success in the modern game.
Pakistan also enjoyed One Day success in England two years ago at the ICC Champions Trophy, but can they force a repeat in 2019?
Pakistan is available at odds of +1400 to win the 2019 World Cup and there is some definite interest in that figure. The 1992 victory may be a distant memory but punters only have to look back two years for this side’s triumph in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy.
Many of that 2017 squad are assembling at the same UK grounds this summer so it would be foolish to rule Pakistan out. Admittedly, they’ve not started the ODI tour of England in winning style, but can they recover when the big tournament arrives?
This current Pakistan squad may be struggling to keep England’s explosive batsmen in check but they are almost matching them for runs. If we discount the first, rain-affected ODI at The Oval, Pakistan had scored 719 runs in the next two games. That would be enough to win most matches and if they maintain that standard through the World Cup, they should be competitive in the group phase.
Openers Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman claimed a century apiece in those Sportsbook games and there was good support from the top order. They’re also gaining good experience of English conditions and surfaces and if Pakistan is to make the World Cup knockouts, the batsmen will have to maintain that form.
Bowlers Under Pressure
Many bowling attacks will struggle on the flat English surfaces this summer. Pitches will suit the home side’s style of play so expect the bat to dominate at the expense of the ball.
There has been some good news for Pakistan with reports that leg spinner Shadab Khan will be available following illness and the bowlers certainly need a lift. They’ve conceded heavily against England and the concern is that their inexperience is being exposed. At just 19, Shaheen Afridi is finding that batters are targeting his spells and he needs to improve at the tournament.
Overall, while we’ve no concerns regarding Pakistan’s batting, their bowlers are a weaker link and could stand in the way of progression to the semifinals.
Pakistan, as in previous years, has brought a talented and passionate side to the World Cup and the skipper will have a key role in pulling this all together. Sarfaraz Khan doesn’t appear to be a patient man and he lets his frustration show when things aren’t quite going to plan on the field.
Depending on the character of the player on the receiving end of his wrath, they can either respond positively or they can feel under pressure. When you have young and inexperienced players on the squad, you need to be aware of the potential pitfalls to this captaincy approach.
Sarfaraz is certainly in the side on merit and he played a key role in that ICC Champions triumph. As first choice wicket keeper, he’s claimed 121 victims behind the stumps in his first 104 ODI matches. The 32-year-old has also scored two hundreds and has a healthy average in this format of 33.50. A multi-functional player, he’s not going to change his style but his captaincy is critical if Pakistan is going to go deep into this tournament.
In regard to other, long-term markets, the Sportsbooks aren’t convinced about Pakistan’s individual players. In the tournament top batsman betting, Babar Azam carries the shortest price of anyone in this squad and he’s out at a relatively distant +2500. As for bowling, we move all the way down to Hasan Ali, who is at that same +2500.
We’re not going to back Pakistan this year but they can certainly be dangerous and they should come close to claiming a top-four place. Batsmen will be enjoying playing in English conditions and while all sides will be playing warm-up games ahead of the World Cup, they are no substitute for a five-match ODI series against the host nation.
That series has, however, exposed concerns with the bowling attack and it’s going to be tough to keep the higher-scoring teams in check. Specifically, we’re tipping Pakistan to finish in fifth place in the table and while that won’t be good enough to make the semis, they’ll provide us with plenty of entertainment along the way.