As the fourth edition of the World Twenty20 kicks off in Hambantota, Sri Lanka today with the hosts and Zimbabwe locking horns, Pakistani fans will be hoping for the national team to produce a performance to match the one that it conjured up in the 2009 edition, when Younus Khan’s men surprised everyone to lift the trophy. Pakistan’s run-up to the event has seen them defeating Australia 2-1 in the recently held series in the UAE, which must have given the team management much heart. However, it is important to note that this was only the first such win in a Twenty20 series by the national team this year. To come out victorious in a global event will require a much improved show, especially with the bat, as mind-boggling batting collapses have become all too frequent in recent times. As Pakistan launch their campaign on September 23 against New Zealand, captain Mohammad Hafeez will need to lead from the front with the bat, to ensure that his team is able to post competitive totals throughout the event.
One aspect of the game that should not cause too much worry and will play a crucial role in the team’s progress is its bowling department. Saeed Ajmal — inexplicably not even considered worthy of a nomination for the International Cricket Council Cricketer of the Year Award — has shot up to the top of the Twenty20 bowlers’ ranking, while Shahid Afridi is also among the top 10.
The nature of this format of the game is such that it does require some level of luck to succeed. However, with the advent of numerous Twenty20 leagues the world over, and with players now having extensive experience of playing this format and adapting their styles to suit the game, the luck factor may not count for as much as it did in the earlier editions. Over the years, Pakistan have displayed a natural flair for Twenty20 cricket and although recent results may not reflect this entirely, it will be foolhardy for opponents to underestimate their chances. However, notwithstanding the immense talent at their disposal, Pakistan will still have to play out of their skins to have a shot at dethroning the defending champions, England.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2012.