Karachi: Going by the past track records Pakistan is one of top eight teams at the World Cup which could either crash out embarrassingly in the first round or romp to the title.
The talented yet erratic Pakistan is already facing more than one problem. Their fast bowlers are down with injuries, their ace match-winning spinner Saeed Ajmal is out of World Cup.
But chief selector and former captain Moin Khan, a key member of 1992 winning team says “This team has the spirit of cornered tigers,” said. “If they play to their potential then this team can surprise the world. “Captain Misbah, who has recovered from a hamstring injury, is also confident of the best results."
Spinning all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez, suspended in November last year also over an illegal bowling action, needs to clear a reassessment test to allow the right combination to Misbah.
Lanky paceman Mohammad Irfan, the tallest man to ever play international cricket at 7 feet, one inch, is expected to be the X-factor in an otherwise inexperienced pace attack which will miss Umar Gul, not fit enough for the event after knee and ankle problems. Even young pacer Jaunaid Khan is down with injuries and had to be pulled out of New Zealand tour.
Coach of Pakistan team Waqar Younis said, ‘to me the X-factor in our team is Irfan. With his height I think he can be dangerous.'
In Ajmal's absence, leg-spinner Yasir Shah, along with all-rounder Afridi, will handle the spin department. Afridi, who will also quit one-day cricket after the World Cup, will be important too as a batsman in the slog overs along with Umar Akmal, Misbah and Sohaib Maqsood.
Pakistan's top-order problem persists and will continue to haunt them as Hafeez opening the innings with Ahmed Shehzad doesn't always guarantee a trouble-free start.
They will hope the experience of Younis Khan and Misbah provide stability to the batting.
Pakistan has the worst run-rate among the top ten teams in playing dot balls from over 11 to 40.
Pakistan must win one of their first two matches, against arch-rivals India and the West Indies, in order to have easier passage into the last eight.
If not, their qualification will rely on their last group B match against a dangerous Ireland team, the same opponents who outplayed them in the first round of the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean.