Pakistan have mostly been a team, which has kept its fans on the edge of their seats. Back in 1992, Imran Khan’s men lifted the World Cup for the maiden time and those moments are engraved in gold in the pages of their history. Then in 2007, the Men in Green qualified for the inaugural T20 World Cup final before losing to India.
However, Pakistan made amends by winning the 2009 World T20 on English soil. But amidst some superlative cricket, the side has also succumbed to pressure quite a few times.
Subsequently, their temperament and skills have been questioned plenty of times. But then when every possible odd is stacked against them, Pakistan rise like a phoenix from the ashes. The Asian side can make a mockery of predictions and analysis with their unpredictable brand of cricket.
1. In the article, let’s take a look at five occasions when Pakistan put forth their unpredictability: –
Amir-Ajmal’s record 10th wicket stand against New Zealand
Back in 2009, Mohammad Amir was a teenager and was taking baby steps amongst the big boys of cricket. But in the ODI in Abu Dhabi, he gave New Zealand an almighty scare. Chasing 212, the hosts were tottering at 101 for nine in the 34th over.
With 111 needed off 101 balls, it needed something supernatural for Pakistan to escape defeat. And they almost managed to achieve the improbable. Amir along with Saeed Ajmal put on 103 for the 10th wicket in 96 balls. Amir notched his maiden half-century, staying unbeaten on 73 off 81 with seven fours and three sixes.
Ajmal also played a gritty hand of 33, giving Amir the apt support. Just when it seemed that the duo would take Pakistan over the finishing line, Ajmal mistimed a pull of Jacob Oram to give the Black Caps a seven-run win.
2. Concedes Glenn Maxwell a maiden with two runs needed
In the third ODI of Australia’s series versus Pakistan in 2014, Glenn Maxwell managed to pull something miraculous. With the hosts needing two runs to win off the last over, the off-spinner churned out a double wicket-maiden. Sohail Tanvir and Mohammad Irfan kept swinging, but to very little effect.
Maxwell started with a dot-ball after which the tweaker rattled Tanvir’s woodwork. Irfan then played out three dot deliveries and Pakistan needed two off the last ball. Irfan swung, but holed out to James Faulkner in the cover region.
It helped the Aussies restrict Pakistan to 230 and win by a run. It didn’t raise eyebrows that Maxwell was adjudged the Player of the Match. Shahid Afridi, the then Pakistan skipper, also admitted that his side needed to be more clinical while finishing.
3. Beats world Number.1 England in 2019 CWC after 11-match losing streak
Pakistan started 2019 with 13 defeats in their first 16 ODIs. In the first match of their World Cup, Sarfaraz Ahmed and Co lost to the West Indies, getting bowled out for 105. In their second game against England at the Trent Bridge, even the optimists would have thought twice before giving them a chance.
Moreover, the Men in Green went into the game on the backs of 11 defeats on the trot. However, surprising one and all, Pakistan came out trumps by 14 runs in Nottingham. Riding on half-centuries from Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez and skipper Sarfaraz, they notched 348 runs.
While defending the massive score, Joe Root and Jos Buttler made them sweat with centuries. But wickets at regular intervals in the death overs meant that Pakistan brushed aside the Three Lions in Nottingham.
4. Losing by 21 runs to Sri Lanka chasing 136 in Abu Dhabi Test
Pakistan had scored 422 in their first innings and managed to take a three-run lead against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi. In the second innings, the hosts bowled Lanka out for a paltry 138, setting themselves a target of 136. After the Lunch break on the fifth day, only a Pakistan win seemed to be on the cards.
But then, Sarfaraz’s men were shot out for 114 giving the visitors a crucial 1-0 series lead. Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail and Sarfaraz got into double-digits, but none could carry on. Rangana Herath racked up a six-wicket haul and also picked up 400 Test wickets.
The lower-order batsmen tried for some rearguard action, but their efforts went in vain. Herath trapped Mohammad Abbas in front and brought the curtains down on the match. Dilruwan Perera also accounted for three prized scalps.
5. Knocked out of 2007 World Cup after defeat to Ireland
The 2007 World Cup in the West Indies would be etched as one of the darkest phases in the history of Pakistan cricket. Their head coach Bob Woolmer’s demise and their overall campaign got them on their knees.
After losing their opening game to the home team at the Kingston in Jamaica, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Co slumped to a three-wicket loss to Trent Johnston’s Ireland at the same venue. In a rain curtailed match, Pakistan got out for 132 with Kamran Akmal’s 27 being the top score.
Defending the modest score, the Men in Green chipped in with frequent wickets. However, Niall O’Brien stood his ground and saw Ireland home with 32 balls to spare. His 107-ball 72 made sure that Pakistan crashed out of the World Cup before their last group match against Zimbabwe.
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