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Pakistan's World Cup campaign — who was the weakest link?

It’s time to find out how each member of the Pakistan cricket team fared in this year's campaign.
Updated Jul 16, 2019 12:49pm

World Cup 2019 has ended which means it’s time to dissect and find out how members of the Pakistan cricket team fared in their doomed near-run to the semi-finals. Here's a breakdown of how the Men in Green performed individually:

The good

Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed embraces Babar Azam after scoring the winning runs during the World Cup match between New Zealand and Pakistan. ─ AP/File
Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed embraces Babar Azam after scoring the winning runs during the World Cup match between New Zealand and Pakistan. ─ AP/File

Babar Azam was undeniably the star of the show, so much so that he is even being talked about as a potential future captain even though he isn’t quite a leader-type player. He averaged 67.71 with the bat, and silenced some of his critics who said that he is all style and no substance. He provided substance aplenty and was by far his team’s highest scorer at the event with 474 runs to his name.

Mohammad Amir took five wickets in Pakistan's World Cup match against Australia in Taunton. — AFP/File
Mohammad Amir took five wickets in Pakistan's World Cup match against Australia in Taunton. — AFP/File

Mohammad Amir was to Pakistan bowling what Azam was to Pakistan batting. The left-arm pacer’s proponents have long been saying that his struggles the past few years were down to just bad luck and not because of a loss of ability. And he proved his backers rights. He picked up 17 wickets at an average of 21.05. Opponents batters, even when they were going after others, wouldn’t dare attack Amir.

Shaheen Shah Afridi celebrates taking the wicket of Afghanistan’s Hashmatullah Shahidi.—Reuters/File
Shaheen Shah Afridi celebrates taking the wicket of Afghanistan’s Hashmatullah Shahidi.—Reuters/File

Shaheen Shah Afridi, after a difficult start, matured as the tournament matured — so much so that by the end of the tournament he had overtaken Amir as the team’s main weapon. He finished with 16 scalps to his name at an average of 14.62 — much better than even Amir’s.

Haris Sohail hits out during his whirlwind innings against South Africa at Lord’s.— AFP/File
Haris Sohail hits out during his whirlwind innings against South Africa at Lord’s.— AFP/File

Haris Sohail may have missed out on a ton but his 89 off 59 against South Africa was one of the best knocks played by a Pakistani batsman at any World Cup. He followed that up with another 68 against New Zealand and showed why Sarfaraz Ahmed was so wrong to bench him after the West Indies game. In all, he averaged 39.6 with the bat — a pretty reasonable number.

Imad Wasim in a practice session. — AFP/File
Imad Wasim in a practice session. — AFP/File

Imad Wasim is another one of those who suffered due to bad team selections. When reinstated into the line-up, he delivered, including a man-of-the-match innings against Afghanistan. Multiple not outs boosted his World Cup average to 54, which amplifies his actual performance but it was still a decent campaign for him. His bowling wasn’t as effective though; he picked up just two wickets in the tournament.

Wahab Riaz during the World Cup. — AFP/File
Wahab Riaz during the World Cup. — AFP/File

Wahab Riaz wasn’t expected to do much but he did do much and then some. Pakistan would not have beaten England had it not been for his extraordinary spell at the end. His late cameo against Australia gave Pakistan some hope which they had no business having. Then there was that six and a four against Afghanistan.

Shadab Khan celebrates after the dismissal of South Africa's Aiden Markram. — AFP/File
Shadab Khan celebrates after the dismissal of South Africa's Aiden Markram. — AFP/File

Shadab Khan wasn’t too prolific, taking nine wickets in seven outings but whenever he was asked to find a breakthrough, most of the times he delivered. He solidifies his position as the leader of Pakistan’s spin attack.

Imamul Haq during the World Cup game against India. — AFP/File
Imamul Haq during the World Cup game against India. — AFP/File

Imamul Haq makes “the good” side of the argument but only just. Young or not, Pakistan were relying on him to deliver big runs as he had so often done these past few years. He had a string of decent starts but his big innings didn’t come until the team’s last match, by which time it was too late. An average of 38 runs per innings was okay but much more was expected.

The bad

Mohammad Hafeez consoles Sarfraz during the World Cup. — AFP/File
Mohammad Hafeez consoles Sarfraz during the World Cup. — AFP/File

Sarfraz Ahmed, whose personal batting average shrank this World Cup, did not meet the minimum criteria for captains to keep their jobs. There is an entire piece on it. Just read that:

Sarfraz has had a good run but its time to start anew

Mohammad Hafeez bowls during the 2019 Cricket World Cup warm up match between Pakistan and Afghanistan. — AFP
Mohammad Hafeez bowls during the 2019 Cricket World Cup warm up match between Pakistan and Afghanistan. — AFP

Mohammad Hafeez, at World Cup 2019, perfected his trademark art of getting out on the easiest of deliveries. If there was a full toss to be hit, you could rely on Hafeez to find the most isolated of fielders with remarkable precision. If there was a part-timer trying his luck, Hafeez made sure that they hit the jackpot. He averaged 32.90, even starred against England but kept on getting out at the most inopportune times, which put unnecessary strain on the lower order.

A file photo of Asif Ali. — AFP
A file photo of Asif Ali. — AFP

Asif Ali’s role in the line-up is such that if he gets out it’s not that big a deal. He is, after all, in the side to make a late push, which is risky and at times doesn’t pay off. The PSL product’s real blunders came in the field when he dropped one catch after another. As the maxim goes: catches win matches.

The ugly

Shoaib Malik plays a shot during World Cup 2019. — AFP/File
Shoaib Malik plays a shot during World Cup 2019. — AFP/File

Shoaib Malik played thrice, failed thrice. Against England, when all other recognised batsmen scored in double figures, Malik was the odd man out. Of the 348 runs made in that innings, his contribution was just eight. That was actually the high point of his tournament as it got worse and worse-r for him. Against Australia, he was out on the second ball for a duck, and against India, he got a Golden Duck. It’s sad when legends go like this.

Fakhar Zaman plays a shot during the 2019 Cricket World Cup group stage match between India and Pakistan. — AFP/File
Fakhar Zaman plays a shot during the 2019 Cricket World Cup group stage match between India and Pakistan. — AFP/File

Fakhar Zaman’s batting average nosedived to 23.25 from 45.70. He was supposed to be the wrecking ball up top but he became a fuzzy Dunlop, which the opposition dismantled with ease.

Hassan Ali in the Cricket World Cup 2019. — AFP/File
Hassan Ali in the Cricket World Cup 2019. — AFP/File

Hasan Ali bowled the wrong line and length in all four matches he played and was deservedly smashed by almost everyone who faced him. The variations, the skid, the precision he is known for, or was once known for, was nowhere to be seen. He picked up just two wickets his quartet of appearances at an average of 128 (not a typo, you read this one right!).