Bengaluru, June 27: Pakistan continue to stun the cricketing world, more with their incredible uncertainty that the skills their current lot possesses.
On Wednesday, the former world champions crawled one more step back from the brink by beating New Zealand in a crucial league game at Edgbaston by six wickets.
Babar Azam finally got to a three-figure mark, something that will assure his country's cricket experts and fans who had been crying foul that he wasn't doing enough justice to his talent by not converting the fifties to hundreds.
One remarkable aspect of Pakistan in this World Cup has been their ability to hit back when cornered. After getting whacked by the Windies in the first match, Sarfaraz Ahmed's side did well to stun favourites England in the very next game. And after losing to Australia and India, they came back to thump South Africa and New Zealand. A semifinal berth is still not assured for the Greenshirts but they have certainly made this WC exciting.
One would say here that Pakistan's roller-coaster performances at World Cups are nothing new. Even in 1992 when they won the title under the legendary Imran Khan, they were nowhere near making the semifinals but won their last three matches to make it. And there is no denying that once they get back into the momentum, Pakistan are dangerous for any side in the world. They showed it in 1992 and also in the Champions Trophy of 2017 that marked their second-best success in international cricket.
It then brings us to the question: Why do the fans of Pakistan turn fanatic once their side loses games early in the tournament? Pakistan have never been a side that has dominated World Cups from the word go, perhaps with a few exceptions of the 1987 and 1996 editions when they had played at home. On both occasions, they lost the first knock-out game they played after dominating the group stage. So, there is a connection of sort between Pakistan's start and eventual results at big tournaments.
The pattern of Pakistan's game at top tournaments should have been clear to their over-reacting fans by now. They are naturally slow starters who need some blows to charge themselves up and then they go for the kill. This He-Man like approach is not too bad for the cricketing world and has nothing to do with all the analyses that people come up with when Pakistan come up with poor starts. Poor infrastructure, unprofessional nurturing of talents, partying late on match eves, corruption in cricket etc have zero relevance for Pakistan cricket as many think. The country has a goldmine of raw talents and they like to play that way. Be casual but then when you are serious, kill all. That makes Pakistan the team that knows the comeback art the best.
Those who think this speaks about a lack of system, one would counter argue that this too is a system. Pakistan deserve credit for having sustained their strong cricketing roots despite having myriad of challenges. It's always good to see that their top players in a generation do not leave their country at least till they are playing. The side hardly gets to play on their original home ground because of non-cricketing challenges, depriving the local talents of the opportunity to mingle and learn from the nation's best players.
More like cricketing refugees, Pakistan players hardly get the reward for their talents although franchise cricket (barring the Indian Premier League) have brought them a minimum fame. The captain is bashed left, right and centre which doesn't set up a healthy precedent and the team is made to go through hell for just another sporting loss.
Perhaps, these over reactions get Pakistan going.