Tom Moody, Indian pundits say Pakistan still 'not favourites' to win T20 World Cup

Published November 3, 2021
This combination of photos shows Gautam Gambhir (L), Tom Moody (M), and Ajit Agarkar (R) . — Reuters/AFP
This combination of photos shows Gautam Gambhir (L), Tom Moody (M), and Ajit Agarkar (R) . — Reuters/AFP

Pakistan's unbeaten start to the T20 World Cup 2021 that has seen them become the first side to qualify for the semi-finals has earned them plaudits and admiring glances from everywhere but a panel featuring Australia's Tom Moody and Indian ex-cricketers Ajit Agarkar and Gautam Gambhir still do not think the Men in Green are the favourites to win the tournament.

Babar Azam and Co first pummeled pre-tournament favourites India in their opening game before earning thrilling wins over New Zealand and Afghanistan. They then routed Namibia last night to reach the final-four but the panel assembled by ESPNcricinfo was not keen to jump on the Pakistan bandwagon just yet, as most of their experts reminded fans that England are flying just as high, if not higher.

Moody said that Pakistan's performance so far in the tournament was "exceptional", "but to label them as favourites would be a mistake. You have to look at the way England are playing," he added.

Moody said he saw the English side playing a powerful and more upbeat brand of cricket, and termed it a side capable of becoming the new champions.

'Pakistan are one of the favourites'

Ex-Indian pacer Ajit Agarkar said Pakistan were "one of the favourites" because of the way they were playing. "But we will have to wait and see," he said, adding: "Will they do a Pakistan that we know of the years gone by?"

"They are bowling well, they batted well and they fielded really well. Hence, they are certainly one of the favourites for me".

Former Indian opener Gautam Gambhir said Pakistan bowling was the strongest in the tournament but countered that England's batting was "far better" than that of Pakistan.

"Pakistan have shown bowling can also win you the tournament," he said. "It's difficult to actually say Pakistan are the favourites. At the moment, I still go with England."

Gambhir also hailed Haris Rauf for his pace and accuracy in the middle overs and called him a standout performer.

"It's easy to bowl with the new ball, it's easy to bowl the first over, especially when you can swing the ball. Shaheen Shah Afridi has actually bowled with the new ball," he said. "But Haris bowls in the middle and death overs. He's been a standout performer for Pakistan which makes their team's bowling the best in the competition."

'Semi-finals will reveal which Pakistan is really here'

Meanwhile, senior ESPN editor Osman Samidduin said Pakistan lacked a little firepower in their batting at the end which "probably holds them back from being outright favourites".

"England in that sense have crazy love-love batting," he said. "I feel Pakistan are slightly underdone, they are living at the back of a couple of good results."

Samiuddin continued that once Pakistan are in the semi-finals, "then we will know which Pakistan is really here".

ESPN data analyst Gaurav Sundraman underlined that no team had won a World Cup unbeaten, saying winning seven to eight matches in a row was "very difficult" and remarked that Pakistan were not the favourites for him.

'Will Pakistan become the champions?'

The host then asked experts whether Pakistan would end up as the semi-finalist, runner-up or winner of the World T20.

According to Agarkar, Pakistan would crash out of the tournament in the semis, but Gambhir said the Men in Green will make it to the final, only to lose to England.

Moody and Gaurav saw Pakistan's World T20 journey ending in the semi-finals, while Samiuddin thinks Babar's team would lose the battle in the final.

The ESPN panel's assessment is in line with how the oddsmakers see things. According to Bet365, England are the outright favourites to win the tournament.



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