THRILLING contests, big stakes, high emotions — cricket’s showpiece event, the World Cup, is coming up. The euphoria around the 12th edition of this mega event is no different from past World Cups. The top 10 teams of the cricketing world clash to prove their supremacy in the four-yearly event. The 45-day extravaganza will burst into action on May 30 in England where the inaugural edition was held in 1975. The hosts last staged the mega event in 1999 and now eye the elusive title once again after being tipped as favourites. Australia, India and New Zealand are the other front-runners for the title. However, with younger teams such as Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Ireland making notable strides over the past decade, no team can really claim to be clear favourites in the contest. The 2019 World Cup, besides being a lot bigger in terms of money and viewership, will also be tougher as the competition returns to its 1992 format where each team has to play the other nine to emerge a champion. However, the format provides the competing teams a greater chance of redemption which is essential in any sport.
Pakistan, the winners of the 1992 World Cup, will surely take solace in the format given their woeful preparation campaign for the extravaganza. The five successive defeats — four against England and a stunning one against Afghanistan at Bristol on Friday — coupled with fitness problems have left the team demoralised. All hopes rest on the element of surprise which we have seen in the mercurial nature of Team Pakistan in which they have stunned the best in a superlative display one day while succumbing to a minnow the next. It is for this reason alone that they are dubbed as the most predictably unpredictable side in world cricket. The question, though, is whether this Pakistan team can turn the tide — like they did at the Champions Trophy in England two years ago — or will it bow out unceremoniously to take an early flight home?
Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2019