Pakistan have named a strong squad for the upcoming ICC World Cup 2019 in England and Wales starting from May 30. However, former Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Akhtar believes Pakistan stand no chance to win the trophy this time around. Instead, Akhtar feels host England have all the chances in the world to win their maiden World Cup title.
Chairman of selectors, Inzamam-ul-Haq while naming the squad said that they have a three-dimensional team. Pakistan have some quality fast bowlers in their ranks for utilising the English condition backed by batters like Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, and Abid Ali. They also have experienced cricketers like Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez and Sarfaraz Ahmed to guide the youngsters. The men in greens have lifted the prestigious trophy only once in 1992 under the leadership of Imran Khan.
England have a good chance: Akhtar
Shoaib Akhtar, known for his express pace during his playing days, Pakistan have no chance to win the trophy. However, he feels they are one of the strongest contenders to reach the semifinals. Akhtar believes England have the potential to lift the cup and have a compact squad. Since their ouster from 2015 World Cup, England have played an aggressive brand of cricket and are currently the top ODI team. Eoin Morgan & Co will look to exploit the home conditions and end their barren run.
“The England cricket team once held a reputation for not being serious with limited overs cricket, look at them now,” he said to Business Recorder. “There is a bit of a problem in their bowling, but it looks a very compact team. If you ask me, I think England is winning this World Cup.
“I think Pakistan can be one [of] the [more] favourable contenders to [reach the] semis,” he added.
Burden on the seniors
Shoaib Akhtar also added that Pakistan senior cricketers will have to make their presence felt in the upcoming showpiece event. He feels this will be their last World Cup and there will be a lot of expectations from them. Akhtar hinted at Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez who is likely to play their last tournament. Meanwhile, Malik has already announced that he will retire from the ODIs after the World Cup.
“Some five players are going to retire and they will not get a chance again to play the World Cup, so [there] is a huge burden on these players to perform,” Akhtar added.
Pakistan will begin their World Cup campaign on May 31 against Windies at Nottingham.