Pak Cricket – A huge lead aside, Pakistan emerged as the team to beat in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.
During practice, the Pakistan men’s cricket team has a habit of carrying one or two flags in the middle, which coach Saqlain Mushtaq has instilled in the culture.
It is a constant reminder of the pride of playing for one’s country. “This team represents the entire country,” the coach said. “It reminds [players] that 220 million people stand together.”
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That pride and sense of togetherness has served the team well so far in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021, especially since their run-up to the tournament has not been ideal: a late change in the coaching staff. Also the matches against England, New Zealand and Afghanistan were canceled due to various reasons.
The victory was sweet as Pakistan became the first team to seal their place in the semi-finals and did so with one match to spare.
Their journey began when they created World Cup history by beating arch-rivals India for the first time in the Men’s World Cup. The emphatic manner of victory gave the team morale and confidence which carried them with each victory and grew in strength.
Pakistan set the tone for the campaign in the very first over of the match. Shaheen Afridi visualized dismissing three of India’s best batsmen and checked two unplayable wickets in his first spell. Rohit Sharma was caught lbw on a yorker and was dismissed by KL Rahul on one ball. Later, Virat came back to catch Kohli as the Indian skipper prepared to strike at the death.
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After a strong bowling performance to keep India at 151/7, Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan got over the target in an unbroken opening partnership.
Azam kept his emotions in check to remind the fans and the team that this was just the beginning for Pakistan. It gave them a great platform to take off.
Against New Zealand, after they elected to bowl, Harris Rauff bowled with pace and fire. One of his yorkers hit a speed gun of 149 km/h and he took four wickets. With all the bowlers doing their part, Pakistan restricted New Zealand to 134/8.
This time the hunt was more difficult. At 87/5 in the 15th over, New Zealand were playing well but Asif Ali hit three sixes off his 12 balls to end the match with 27*.
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Ali was also the star of the chase against Afghanistan. The 18th over bowled by Naveen-ul-Haq was excellent as it went for just two runs, giving away 24 runs to Pakistan in the last two overs. Thanks to Ali, they only needed one of those: Karim Janam hit four sixes as he chased down 148 to set up their third straight win.
His third came against Namibia, with the Azam-Rizwan duo again on song. Electing to bat this time, she bowled the first opening and scored 59 runs in 10 overs. But then they stepped on the gas pedal, and how. The last 10 overs went for 130 runs, with Azam, Rizwan and Hafeez all punishing the Namibian bowling.
To their credit, Namibia offered tough defence, but Assam’s side were not denied top spot in the semi-finals.
They produced their best Super 12 performance by beating Scotland in their final group game, with Assam scoring their No. 4 fifty.
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Now they have the task of becoming the first team to win the Men’s T20 World Cup undefeated.
In previous tournaments, Pakistan may be known for their volatility and their unpredictable results take their fans on an emotional rollercoaster. But they stood out for their consistency in the 2021 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.
“Seeing the consistency in the Pakistan dressing room, that’s the biggest thing for me so far,” Shoaib Malik said. “Everybody helps each other. It’s a team game. When you play a team game, you need help from your teammates, you need a lot of support from your management. I see all of that coming.”
They have ticked all the boxes when it comes to cricket. In batting, their openers set the tone well on sometimes challenging surfaces, they ran hard between the wickets and the experienced Mohammad Hafeez and Malik made useful contributions, while Ali was the best finisher of the tournament.
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Their bowlers follow in a pack and can save anyone having a bad day. Their versatility is the envy of many other fans.
They had some luck in one tournament, winning three of their four tosses when it proved crucial – but they made their own luck after that.
Pakistan have been under constant pressure for more than two overs in the tournament, so their ability to bounce back or quickly go to plan B or C has not been fully tested.
Neither the pitch nor the snow have played against them and although they did well to bat first against Namibia, it remains to be seen how they will fare in a similar position against more experienced teams.
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Rizwan hasn’t missed a leg for Pakistan in the T20 World Cup and Rizwan has an average for that too – 99.50. The opening batsman and star wicketkeeper has scored two fifties so far, the first against India and the second against Namibia.
Pakistan’s star opening bowler has been too hot to handle throughout the tournament and his opening spell against India (3/31) set the tone for the brand of cricket played by his team throughout the tournament.
Dangerous with the new ball and mad at the death, if he continues his form, Pakistan are a match for any team.
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In 2022, the Pakistan cricket team had some ups and downs, including reaching the finals of the Asia Cup and the World Cup. Unfortunately, they lost both the finals.
The Pakistan team did not play a match in January or February – a long layoff. They played their first match of the year in March, touring Australia for the first time since 1998.
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Pakistan failed to win any of the three matches, drawing two and losing one. Pakistan actually lost the series 1-0.
Pakistan won the ODI series 2-1 as captain Babar Azam scored a century and a half-century as the top scorer in the series.
West Indies toured Pakistan to play an ODI series in June. Babar Azam was once again the star, scoring another century as Pakistan whitewashed the visitors.
Pakistan toured Sri Lanka in July for a two-Test series. Chasing a target of 344 runs in the first Test match, Pakistan’s newcomer Abdullah Shafiq scored 160 runs.
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Sri Lanka won the second Test by 246 runs to level the series at 1-1.
In August, the green jerseys visited the Netherlands for an ODI series. The hosts put up a good fight in two matches, but Pakistan still won all three matches and secured their place in the 2023 ODI World Cup.
Pakistan played against India in the first match of T20 Asia Cup 2022. It was a hotly contested match. India won by five wickets with two balls to spare.
Pakistan qualified for the Super Four after defeating Hong Kong. Chasing a target of 182 runs, they hit back against India.
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Faced with elimination, Pakistan defeated Afghanistan by one wicket in a thrilling match to reach the final of the Asia Cup.
England visited Pakistan in September to play a 7-match series. Four matches were played in Karachi and both teams won two matches each. England won the last two matches in Lahore and won the series 4-3.
Pakistan faced New Zealand and Bangladesh in a T20 tri-series in October just before the World Cup.
After beating Bangladesh in both matches, Pakistan won the match against New Zealand and qualified for the final.
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Chasing a target of 164 runs, the green jerseys beat the Kiwis in the final and won the trophy.
Pakistan did not get off to a good start in the World Cup as India defeated Pakistan in a thrilling opener on the back of Virat Kohli’s master class.
Zimbabwe shocked Pakistan in the second match.
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