A Pakistani cricket fan waves the national flag as fans celebrate the team's victory against India in Oct 24 World T20 matcH. — Reuters

World Cup 2021: 5 reasons why Pakistan fans should not celebrate prematurely

There is a lot that remains to be done and so confetti shouldn't be cued just yet.
Updated 07 Nov, 2021 04:35pm

Pakistan have been quick off the blocks in T20 World Cup 2021, winning all four of their opening matches with style. That said, it’s still too early to get excited and assume that the World Cup trophy is coming home, and here is why:

1- There is a team called England

England team celebrate winning the 3-match T20 series against Pakistan on July 20, 2021. — Reuters
England team celebrate winning the 3-match T20 series against Pakistan on July 20, 2021. — Reuters

When you lump together India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and New Zealand into the same group, it generates great excitement and media hoopla but it also overshadows everything else.

For instance, those having already crowned Pakistan the world champions must know that there was another group running parallel to the one featuring Pakistan and was packed with bigger teams.

Chiefly among those teams are England, who have been the most impressive team so far in this World Cup and whose path will cross with Pakistan’s at some point in the competition, if both go all the way.

Nothing is guaranteed against England, which is evident in Pakistan’s poor T20I record against them. Of the 21 T20Is played between the two sides, Pakistan have won just six and England 13. An abysmal win percentage of 32.5 is why the confetti shouldn’t be cued just yet.

2- There is also a team called Australia

Over a dozen 50-over World Cups and half a dozen T20 World Cups, Pakistan have never beaten Australia in the knockout rounds.

The closest they came was in 2010 when Pakistan had amassed 191 and Australian run chase was going awry when Michael Hussey did what we do not have the energy or the heart to explain.

Australia's Michael Hussey smashes a six during the World T20 Semi-final against Pakistan on May 14, 2010 in a St. Lucia ground, West Indies. — Photo courtesy: Cricket Australia
Australia's Michael Hussey smashes a six during the World T20 Semi-final against Pakistan on May 14, 2010 in a St. Lucia ground, West Indies. — Photo courtesy: Cricket Australia

The current Australian team appears light to the extent that some folks are already looking past them and are actually relieved that Pakistan appear set to face them rather than England. But let us remind you that cricket’s Australia are like the Germany of football. Neither team can be ruled out or taken lightly in world cups, no matter what their form is or how stronger the opposition are.

3- There is a thing called peaking too early

This has happened to many highflying teams that hit the ground running but then eventually fizzle out in the business end of their campaign.

Babar Azam plays a shot during the World T20 match against Afghanistan on Oct 29, 2021 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. — AP
Babar Azam plays a shot during the World T20 match against Afghanistan on Oct 29, 2021 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. — AP

Pakistan have played some eye-catching cricket thus far but what they’ve won will be of no use if they cannot maintain the same level of results in the semis that are up next or the final after that.

Let’s hope that the best is yet to come and the best is not already in the past.

4- There is a thing called having a perspective

The win over India created such a euphoric feeling, we forget that the next two victories over New Zealand and even Afghanistan were hard fought, and needed ‘A-six’ Ali to put on his superhero cape.

Pakistan's Shaheen Shah Afridi Shah celebrates after taking the wicket of KL Rahul (L) at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in the World T20 match against India on Oct 24, 2021. — Reuters
Pakistan's Shaheen Shah Afridi Shah celebrates after taking the wicket of KL Rahul (L) at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in the World T20 match against India on Oct 24, 2021. — Reuters

In fact, even in the win over the not-so-mighty Namibia, there was a point where Pakistan bowling was struggling a little bit. Thus, if we choose not to be blinded by the four-match winning streak and open up our minds, we’d find that so far Pakistan have had one super convincing victory over a difficult opponent and three close wins over sides less talented than them. That should be a cause of concern.

5- There is a thing called two-men show

Pakistan have scored a total of 624 runs over their first four matches. Of these 624 runs, a staggering 402 have come off the bats of just two men namely Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan.

It means that 64 per cent of Pakistan runs have been contributed by their openers and the rest of the batting unit has combined for the remaining 36pc.

Pakistan Captain Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan celebrate after chasing down India's score of 151 in 17.5 overs in the World T20 match on Oct 24, 2021. — Photo via Twitter
Pakistan Captain Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan celebrate after chasing down India's score of 151 in 17.5 overs in the World T20 match on Oct 24, 2021. — Photo via Twitter

What if an unlucky shot or an unplayable ball leads to their early exits in an important game? Can the follow-up batsmen such as Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik do the bulk of the scoring in such a hypothetical situation?

In reality, that situation could translate into Pakistan being 25-2, with Fakhar’s vulnerability to spin exposed, and the innings being in the hands of a pair of 40-year-olds and Asif Ali. That’s an uncomfortable thought, isn’t it?