World Cup 2022: 5 takeaways as Pakistan rise from the ashes like a phoenix

This is a victory for those hopeful mathematicians who saw entry after entry taken off their list of scenarios but did not give up dreaming.
Published November 6, 2022

Pakistan beat Bangladesh by five wickets to qualify for the 2022 World Cup semi-final and keep their dream alive. Here are our five takeaways from their unexpected resurgence:

1- Finally some smile drawn out of Lady Luck

Like the Lazarus, like the phoenix, like all those undying things, Pakistan are back from the dead. And the credit for their revival absolutely does not go to themselves, for they had done plenty to shoot themselves in their own foot.

Lady Luck is what they owe it all to. Had it not been for the gargantuan upset of South Africa at the hands of the Netherlands, we’d have been writing and you’d have been reading the obituary of Pakistan’s World Cup campaign rather than a rebirth.

This is also a victory for those hopeful mathematicians who saw entry after entry taken off of their list of scenarios but did not give up dreaming, even when the rest of us pragmatists kept judging them.

2- Dare we say?

A World Cup Down Under, a tall world class left-arm pacer leading the attack, a painful defeat to start the tournament, a defeat to India, when all seemed lost a massive stroke of luck at the expense of South Africa and the team stays alive. Up ahead could be a clash with New Zealand in the semi-final and with England in the final … at the MCG.

I’m pretty sure we have all heard this story line before.

But let’s just stop right here so we do not get blamed. Just by the way, does anyone know if Babar Azam has any interest in politics? Let us know in the comments please.

3- A word for Shadab

There have been a rare few positives for Pakistan so far in this tournament. One of them has been Shadab Khan. Surely his rash stroke against Zimbabwe proved catalyst for the subsequent meltdown against Zimbabwe but other than that, he has been pretty much stellar.

Against Bangladesh, too, it was his dismissal of Soumya Sarkar that put the brakes on the Tigers’ innings and helped Pakistan restrict them from 73-1 to 127-8.

The allrounder is Pakistan’s highest wicket taker in the tournament with 10 scalps to his name. He is also very hard to hit, as evident in his economy rate of just 6.22. This is despite him being a leggie. With the bat, too, it was his knock of 52 against South Africa that turned the match on its head.

If the World Cup were to end today, Shadab would be Pakistan’s player of the tournament.

4- No pressure

Apart from keeping Pakistan’s World Cup dream alive, what this latest sequence of fortunate events has done is that it has freed this group of any pressure. The Men in Green were already dead and buried. Most of their hardcore fans and ruthless TV analysts back home had already vented and given up on them so what lies ahead is now a mere bonus.

There are no real expectations or the pressure that comes with it, under which our players can so easily succumb. The worst is already over. A semi-final exit at the hands of New Zealand — the hot favourites and slayers of the mighty Aussies — brings no shame.

It’s not exactly a win-win situation but more of a win-it’s-okay scenario. It’s also a luxury that the other three teams do not have. New Zealand still haven’t won anything ever, England’s won it just that once and India carry the hopes of a billion-plus cricket fanatics.

On the other hand, Pakistan’s 200m-something supporters have bigger fish to fry at home. At this point, only wins will get attention. A defeat would pretty much get a pass.

5- Much-needed respite for a weary nation

It’s been a tough week for Pakistan for reasons that go beyond the scope of cricket analysis. On that front though, the worst is probably not behind us. There is more to come — there always is.

In the midst of it all, Pakistan fans woke up to an unexpected gift from The Netherlands. The Sunday became even more pleasant with the win over Bangladesh. Finally, a Sunday feels like Sunday.

Here is hoping for more such Sundays.