Pakistan returns for their World Cup campaign to a country in which they have a pretty good record. They can be encouraged by the fact that they were semifinalists in 1979 and 1983 and runners-up in 1999. Unfortunately this past record is probably the only thing they have going for them. Along with the West Indies Pakistan are a mercurial lot and this inconsistency has seen them down at No 6 in the ICC rankings.

The unpredictably that surrounds the Pakistan team has also been marked by their recent record. After unexpectedly winning the Champions Trophy in England in 2017 they have floundered. Pakistan has played 38 ODIs since that triumph and won 15 of them but out of that number 12 have been registered against Zimbabwe, Hong Kong, Afghanistan and a weak Sri Lanka. The latest reverse is the 4-0 rout by England in the just concluded five-match series with one no result. Indeed when they have played the better sides they have up dismally short. Against Australia, New Zealand, England, India and South Africa 23 completed ODIs have produced just three wins and they go into the World Cup having lost ten ODIs on the trot. Pakistan last won a bilateral series against a top five side way back in 2013 when they beat South Africa 2-1. And since 1999 they have made it to the World Cup semifinals just once.

All this does not augur well for Pakistan as they prepare to regain the trophy they won in 1992. They may be encouraged by the format for this was the same format which was played when they won the World Cup. On that occasion they were virtually down and out midway through the campaign but picked themselves from the ground as it were to win the cup.

But of course that side had the likes of Imran Khan and Javed Miandad, Inzamam ul Haq and Rameez Raja, Aamir Sohail and Moin Khan, Wasim Akram and Mushtaq Ahmed. The current team is certainly not a bad one and the late inclusion of Wahab Riaz and Mohammed Amir has strengthened the bowling which is in good hands with the likes of Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Shaheen Afridi and Shadab Khan around. The experience and all-round skills of Shoaib Malik and Mohammed Hafeez could come in handy while the batting will revolve around skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail and Imam ul Haq.

So is this a team good enough to win the World Cup? With the kind of strong competition around from England, Australia, India, South Africa, New Zealand and West Indies it does look highly unlikely and the best one can predict for them is a semifinal spot.

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