Our team did it in 1992. They were lucky to reach the semi final but 2 good days and they lifted the cup. But I have no memories of this event. My earliest memories of world cup are of 1999. Pakistan beating Australia in group stage, our loss to Bangladesh. Semi final dominance over New Zealand and then the crushing defeat in final.
I did not followed them from 1999 to 2003 but you do follow the world cup. So it was that I watched us defeated by Australia, India and England and crash out in the group stage. I followed our cricket team from 2003 to 2007 through their triumphs in India and disappointments in Australia. Funny thing is I was confident about our team’s chances going into 2007 world cup. We had a great middle and lower order and good bowling attack and I watched us crash out after losing to Ireland in first round. How can you feel so attached to the performance of 11 men that you have never met in real life? Why the result of a single match affects my mood? I have no answers.
T20 cricket came. We have done pretty good in it too. 4 semi finals , 2 finals and 1 title is a very good performance. But world cup still has its charm. I stopped following cricket around 2010-11. But still I watched the 2011 world cup and we performed very well with a team that was not very strong. We had a good bowling attack but terrible batting. Loss in semi final was still disappointing. Our bowling was always good. It was our batting that was disappointing. We lost because we did not held our catches or because of a batting collapse.
Now let me look at our present team. In the end of 2013 we had a good odi unit. Our bowling was among the best. I watched them defend scores between 200 to 250 when other teams were chasing above 300. Our batting was settling down. Misbah was the top run getter in odi’s. Muhammad Hafeez was second in that list. Ahmad Shahzad was giving us consistent starts. But as the batting settled down something started happening to our bowling. After a year and half, No Saeed Ajmal and Muhammad Hafeez. Junaid Khan is injured. We don’t have three of our first choice bowlers. We relied on them for last three years. They won matches for us that we should have lost. Regardless of opposition I always knew that Hafeez would be economical, Ajmal would perform. Junaid was becoming more and more reliable. Now we are without them. Ehsan Adil , Sohail Khan and Yasir Shah have not even played 10 odi’s So we can’t ask much of them. Wahab Riaz is a wicket taker but expensive. Muhammad Irfan will always be a threat but he is injury prone. In the past he always had support from other end. We need another all rounder beside Afridi. As always our batting is not reliable. World cup is 10 days away and we are getting one bad news after another.
But still I hope. Yes even after knowing that this might be our weakest world cup team. I still hope that it might be our year. Can Misbah and Afridi retire on a high note. It is unlikely. Most probably we will lose in quarter finals or crash out in group stage but still I hope for a miracle. Coming days are not bright for our team. With no cricket at home, our team is not going to get better. Younis, Misbah, Hafeez and Afridi may be the only players in this team who have played in Pakistan. Why do I still hope? I have no answer but I can’t lose hope. I am hoping for a miracle.