World Cup 2011 February 14, 2011

In praise of low expectations

In the tournament's early years, Pakistan cricket fans viewed the World Cup with fascination but reasonable expectations
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In the tournament's early years, Pakistan cricket fans viewed the World Cup with fascination but reasonable expectations. Defeat in a semi-final was a minor triumph, as anybody but the West Indies winning the trophy was unimaginable. Those carefree days were banished by two related events. First, India's shock success in 1983 gave everybody else hope and an insight into the unpredictability of limited-overs cricket. Thanks to India's achievement, as well as much political intrigue, the right to host the 1987 World Cup was awarded to India and Pakistan.

When India and Pakistan lined up for their respective semi-finals, on home territory, low expectations had metamorphosed into expectant hysteria. The pressure was too much as co-hosts and co-favourites were defeated by unfancied teams from Australia and England; the cricket world's upstarts put in their place by the founding nations.

The scars of those defeats burned long and deep, especially in Pakistan. India had already bagged their World Cup trophy. Pakistan had become perennial semi-finalists, mere onlookers. Happily, Pakistan quickly satisfied their desires with the iconic victory of 1992, but the disease of expectant hysteria had taken hold, reaching fever pitch at roughly four-year intervals.

Indeed, a thrilling quarter-final loss to India in 1996 followed by a gut-wrenching defeat in the 1999 final only served to intensify the illness, with expectant hysteria resurfacing in the World Cups of 2003 and 2007 despite hard evidence of a decline in Pakistan cricket and its cricketers.

I guess it would be still with us had it not been for the utter demoralisation of many Pakistan fans by the spot-fixing saga. With Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif in our ranks, we would be imagining that our bowling attack could storm the tournament. We would put our faith in the two Mohammads and the reverse-swing of Umar Gul to compensate for any deficiencies in fielding and batting.

Instead, the reality check is that the bowling attack is decent but unspectacular. Gul remains, and is supported by a fading Shoaib Akhtar and a bouncy, inexperienced Wahab Riaz. Shahid Afridi might still dazzle but Abdul Razzaq and Mohammad Hafeez are more prosaic bowling talents.

Expectant hysteria has burned itself out. Instead we wait for the next blow to the ribs in the shape of unpredictable calamity. But does that mean I am shorn of hope? Far from it. Great bowling attacks might win you a World Cup in England or Australia but not necessarily in the subcontinent. And when it comes to it, Pakistan have enough firepower and sufficient familiarity with the conditions to pose a threat. The batsmen might not send shivers down the spines of the opposition but they can thrive in these conditions, especially with the lower order ballistics of Afridi and Razzaq.

More importantly, Pakistan are wounded; Shoaib has said as much, and that is when they are most dangerous. And, in truth, other than the loss of Amir, they are not especially weakened. The players have a point to prove and a reputation to restore. The wayward influences have been expelled, we hope, and the team has pulled together in recent months, rewarded for old-fashioned virtues of determination and unity. Playing away from the pressure of frenzied home crowds might be of additional benefit, as will finding themselves in the weaker half of the first-round draw.

With Australia less dominant now than they were in the preceding decade, this is an open World Cup with much expectation centred on the prospect of a new World Cup winner being crowned after 12 years of Aussie rule. Australia might still confound us all, but any of the top eight cricket nations could lift the trophy. The format of the tournament will ease the passage of the big powers to the knockout stages, where anything could happen, even a Pakistan victory.

On form, India might well be favourites but they will have to contend with the debilitating effects of expectant hysteria. Pakistan have no such worries. The world of low expectations is a relaxing place to be except that teams with low expectations, in their differing ways, won every World Cup from 1983 to 1999.

The step from low expectations to expectant hysteria is conceptually gargantuan but, in the distorted reality of a sports fan, it is frighteningly short and easily goaded. My advice is to resist that perilous journey for as long as humanly possible, in essence the quarter-finals stage of World Cup 2011: March 23, or Pakistan Day, to be precise.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Iqbal Merchant on March 7, 2011, 17:54 GMT

    I think Pakistan has a very balance side.A good captain,fast bowlers,excellent batsmen,fine sloggers and energetic fielders.Pakistan needed cool headed and tactical approch to achive the result.Most of the players crumble in pressure situation.We have seen south Africa and England.Pakistani bowlers should bowl according to field.If the want get a chance they should ask captain to move fielders with his consultation.Use slow bowl,Yorkers and bouncer smartly.Batsman weakness should be kept in mind all the time.Bouncer should be thrown on chest or rib cage with proper field.Batsman should be good planners like Younus and Misbah.Akmal brothers should avoid predetermined shots.Sloggers should be innovative.Every ball can not be hit over the rope.They have the abilities to get atleast 12 runs/over in power play.Running between the wicket should be smart not emotional.Batting power play should utiliazed efficently.Inshaallah with unity,planning,our prayers world cup will be ours.

  • Qasim Sulaman Khan Niazi on February 22, 2011, 20:15 GMT

    WORLD DEPRIVED US FROM BEING ONE OF THE HOSTS BUT CAN'T STOP US FROM BECOMING WORTHY CHAMPS!!! Cricket World Cup 2011 belongs to PAKISTAN (INSHA ALLAH).....NOTHING TO PREDICT AS IT IS GOING TO BE A REALITY ON 2ND APRIL 2011. (INSHA ALLAH). PAKISTAN ZINDABAD!!!

  • kamran on February 21, 2011, 23:31 GMT

    Wow.What a world cup this one is going to be .On paper we have no 1 and 2 sides but any of Aus,Ind,Sl,Eng,SA and ofcourse Pak can win.I think Pakistan is playing their best side except I wanted to see Yusuf there.Barring that they can beat any side right now.They should have taken Yusuf and Junaid on NZ tour.My wild guess prediction for semis SA,SL,Pak and???.Rest we will see.

  • Faisal Khan on February 21, 2011, 19:33 GMT

    If Pakistan has to go all the way, they should not worry about losing, just playing their natural game which is to attack will get them into the Finals. A lot would depend on how the support staff, i.e. the debutants put on their show around the experienced stalwarts. At least two batsmen have to click in all the games in the middle, with some fiery starts at the top, and early wickets Pakistan should be able to silence their critics. Last but not least, their fielding have to show spine,

  • Faridoon on February 21, 2011, 11:10 GMT

    I think this cup will b the second victory for one of the 3 former champions from asia. Of the 3 i really think SL looks the best balanced side. World class bowlers and batters and they are all good fielders.

  • Rashid on February 20, 2011, 18:37 GMT

    We can be high on expectation if we have Junaid khan who has better potential than Shoaib and Wahab,Shoib & Wahab is not gonna win us World cup that is certain.If Junaid is like Amir or close we have a chance. Yousuf to stabilize middle order.Because when collapse comes which is very common for Pakistan; The experienced and one of the top batsman in Pakistan history sitting on side line is pathetic.

  • Shafik khan on February 20, 2011, 4:14 GMT

    I want Pak VS Ind final nd exciting nd full of suspence nd thriling FIGHTING b/w both archrivals(A pop corn match).No matter who win.Can my dreame will came true......¿

  • sara khan on February 19, 2011, 20:06 GMT

    14 teams 1 world cup? for pakistan to win d world cup,they just need to show d confidence on the field, n not off d field,the way india defeated bangladesh,sehwag had promised he would take revenge against bangladesh, n made 175 to prove it,has 1 paki cricketer said that he would take revenge aginst ireland,for their exist 4m d world cup

  • Saurabh on February 19, 2011, 18:45 GMT

    South Asians...as much we would like to run away from 'expectant hysteria'...we cannot. Let Pakistan win its first 3 matches...and boom...the hysteria comes alive again...expectations rise to multi-levels. We are all deeply rooted in emotions and that's what shows in our games.

    Other teams, on the other hand, don't fall prey to this. While SA would continue to be under the finale trauma...Australia is to an extent over-satisfied with WC wins. The Queen's men are also the ones to watch out for. But yeah...there's no running away from expectant hysteria for the 'men in green'.

  • sameel on February 18, 2011, 11:46 GMT

    Though i am a Pakistani and would love them to win we should be practical that the contenders are India , Australia and srilanka.I would be quite pleased if Pakistan even make the semifinal but i would love to see an exciting Pakistan vs India match.

  • Iqbal Merchant on March 7, 2011, 17:54 GMT

    I think Pakistan has a very balance side.A good captain,fast bowlers,excellent batsmen,fine sloggers and energetic fielders.Pakistan needed cool headed and tactical approch to achive the result.Most of the players crumble in pressure situation.We have seen south Africa and England.Pakistani bowlers should bowl according to field.If the want get a chance they should ask captain to move fielders with his consultation.Use slow bowl,Yorkers and bouncer smartly.Batsman weakness should be kept in mind all the time.Bouncer should be thrown on chest or rib cage with proper field.Batsman should be good planners like Younus and Misbah.Akmal brothers should avoid predetermined shots.Sloggers should be innovative.Every ball can not be hit over the rope.They have the abilities to get atleast 12 runs/over in power play.Running between the wicket should be smart not emotional.Batting power play should utiliazed efficently.Inshaallah with unity,planning,our prayers world cup will be ours.

  • Qasim Sulaman Khan Niazi on February 22, 2011, 20:15 GMT

    WORLD DEPRIVED US FROM BEING ONE OF THE HOSTS BUT CAN'T STOP US FROM BECOMING WORTHY CHAMPS!!! Cricket World Cup 2011 belongs to PAKISTAN (INSHA ALLAH).....NOTHING TO PREDICT AS IT IS GOING TO BE A REALITY ON 2ND APRIL 2011. (INSHA ALLAH). PAKISTAN ZINDABAD!!!

  • kamran on February 21, 2011, 23:31 GMT

    Wow.What a world cup this one is going to be .On paper we have no 1 and 2 sides but any of Aus,Ind,Sl,Eng,SA and ofcourse Pak can win.I think Pakistan is playing their best side except I wanted to see Yusuf there.Barring that they can beat any side right now.They should have taken Yusuf and Junaid on NZ tour.My wild guess prediction for semis SA,SL,Pak and???.Rest we will see.

  • Faisal Khan on February 21, 2011, 19:33 GMT

    If Pakistan has to go all the way, they should not worry about losing, just playing their natural game which is to attack will get them into the Finals. A lot would depend on how the support staff, i.e. the debutants put on their show around the experienced stalwarts. At least two batsmen have to click in all the games in the middle, with some fiery starts at the top, and early wickets Pakistan should be able to silence their critics. Last but not least, their fielding have to show spine,

  • Faridoon on February 21, 2011, 11:10 GMT

    I think this cup will b the second victory for one of the 3 former champions from asia. Of the 3 i really think SL looks the best balanced side. World class bowlers and batters and they are all good fielders.

  • Rashid on February 20, 2011, 18:37 GMT

    We can be high on expectation if we have Junaid khan who has better potential than Shoaib and Wahab,Shoib & Wahab is not gonna win us World cup that is certain.If Junaid is like Amir or close we have a chance. Yousuf to stabilize middle order.Because when collapse comes which is very common for Pakistan; The experienced and one of the top batsman in Pakistan history sitting on side line is pathetic.

  • Shafik khan on February 20, 2011, 4:14 GMT

    I want Pak VS Ind final nd exciting nd full of suspence nd thriling FIGHTING b/w both archrivals(A pop corn match).No matter who win.Can my dreame will came true......¿

  • sara khan on February 19, 2011, 20:06 GMT

    14 teams 1 world cup? for pakistan to win d world cup,they just need to show d confidence on the field, n not off d field,the way india defeated bangladesh,sehwag had promised he would take revenge against bangladesh, n made 175 to prove it,has 1 paki cricketer said that he would take revenge aginst ireland,for their exist 4m d world cup

  • Saurabh on February 19, 2011, 18:45 GMT

    South Asians...as much we would like to run away from 'expectant hysteria'...we cannot. Let Pakistan win its first 3 matches...and boom...the hysteria comes alive again...expectations rise to multi-levels. We are all deeply rooted in emotions and that's what shows in our games.

    Other teams, on the other hand, don't fall prey to this. While SA would continue to be under the finale trauma...Australia is to an extent over-satisfied with WC wins. The Queen's men are also the ones to watch out for. But yeah...there's no running away from expectant hysteria for the 'men in green'.

  • sameel on February 18, 2011, 11:46 GMT

    Though i am a Pakistani and would love them to win we should be practical that the contenders are India , Australia and srilanka.I would be quite pleased if Pakistan even make the semifinal but i would love to see an exciting Pakistan vs India match.

  • purple-haze on February 18, 2011, 5:56 GMT

    Finally, we have a comments section on cricinfo where people are not spewing venom. It was a pleasant surprise to read the honest, mature and insightful comments that have been appearing so far on this article. @ NK, ASIF, BIGGUS : great comments. As far as the obvious question of WC favorites....i agree with people who say that this is going to be a very open world cup. No team is an outright favorite. Being an Indian, I would obviously want my country to win but at the same time I would be happy if Pakistan do well. World Cricket is incomplete without Pak at their best again. So my heart goes out to India and Pakistan.

  • Bilal Ahmad on February 18, 2011, 2:09 GMT

    cricket is a game of nerves. those who play it, know it! interestingly, adrenaline is good for bowlers but bad for batsmen. amongst bowlers as well, it is better for fast bowlers as compared to spin bowlers. spin bowlers usually need some runs on the board to be confident enough to flight the ball and extract turn. when they are tense, they usually have a flat trajectory, which is a run saving tactic. Now with all this, i mean to say that a team without potent bowling attack would not win the world cup. This effect will be visible in the knockout stages. from that stage onwards, Srilanka, Pakistan and Australia would do well. India may also join in semis if they end up at the top of their group (thus playing most probably NZL). Final is likely between SL and Pakistan. if Pakistan reaches Final, it wont lose.

  • Aki on February 17, 2011, 20:43 GMT

    I think india have chances of winning bt they r being overestimated. this is an open touornament and any major side can win this, even nz cn make this. u ol r making semifinals predictions on d basis of their current form, ranking, psychological n mental status bt these all do nt wrk in such major tournaments. take example of 1983 wc, indians were nt in form, neither they were standing anywhere in rankings nor they were among favorites bt they did.. another example, in 1996, pak entered the wc as favorites. they had reached in semifinals in 1987 nd had won the 1992 battle bt we all know the results.. nd nw d last example, before 2007 wc, india n pak as well were strong contenders on papers n they both vanished frm the cmptitn in league matches. SA were in 1999, 2003 nd even in 2007 bt they did nthng. Nw again they are fav, bt this time, who knows, they cn make it happen. WI , certainly they r nt among contendors bt their team cn make any opponent lose their flow. these men in red hav really a gud team to be winners. Same thng fr oz. Punter boyz r best in team work on field. As individual, they cn be nowhere in rankings bt as a team they r still DON of cricket. England cn again repeat 20-20 show as they hv also got a nice united team. Indians r undoubtedly the best team in present ranking scenario bt they hv to remain cool on pitches nd should avoid the scene of 2009 wc t-20. I thnk sl is also being overestimated. They hav certainly got awesome team bt they r standing on the efforts of their 2-3 players like sangakara nd such battles r nt won by single man's power. i as an indian want to see wc trophy in sachin's hand.

  • mash on February 17, 2011, 19:37 GMT

    i religiously believe that india and sri lanka are the big contenders not because of the quality of the team but the conditions that suit them.....however, when it comes to india and pak it never about which team is better...its always about nerves...pakistan had a better team than india for all the eighties and nineties but kept losing to india in the big matches...india is better than pak for at least five years now but have lost to pakistan in the champions trophy and some other big matches too...i reckon its an asian cup to lose...aus has no chance for me as their days have gone and for all who say that australia rises to the occasion...well me friends the team that used to rise to the occasion has retired...england i believe is the most over rated team right now...i think if bangladesh and w.indies play well, we might see england out in the first round....fingers crossed for india, pak final...all the best to all the fans..cheers

  • Gundroo on February 17, 2011, 17:37 GMT

    Lot depends on Pak batting,lot of depth but will they deliver. As such pitches should suit them. Bowling is balanced, need Razak+2, of course spinner will do well in the subcontinant.India and srilanka have best chance to be in finals.For Pak, we never know. They may surprise us all, if they click at vital stage. It needs only 3 wins to be champ.Best of luck to all.Let us look forward to some fab. cricket and a wonderful atmosphere. I wish i could be there.

  • Morten on February 17, 2011, 17:21 GMT

    KEEP an eye on all aged players concerning fixing, specially bowlers like Lee and Shoaib. They are in a age bracket where any ban doesn't make much difference for them.

  • izaz haque on February 17, 2011, 16:40 GMT

    Unfortunately, in very few words, the reason why Pakistan faces low expectations, is simply that the smart money is not on them. Low expectations = low probability. So lets just relax and cheer for the best team.

  • rizwan rizvi on February 17, 2011, 16:32 GMT

    Pakistan can do a lot better if they do some changes to there batting order.i think that umer and kamran batting order can be exchange becoz umer can play good,long ans sensible inning but we are wasting him by just sending him to hit the ball in the last few overs.and also ajmal must be preferred over abdurehman.what do u people think?any comment plz

  • a pakistani on February 17, 2011, 12:12 GMT

    @Zafar: For starters, you'd do well to stop calling your captain a lunatic and start praying for the team. Our hero Imran bhai himself wouldn't approve of this behaviour regardless of the fact that Afridi is a far-from-perfect captain. @Deep: There is such a thing as unwavering faith in god. Against all odds...

  • Taimur Aman on February 17, 2011, 10:35 GMT

    A lot has already been said about the formate of the current WC and how it is likely to reduce the possibility of any upset as far as qualification for semis is concerned (except off course both Bangladesh and WI qualify from Group B). after that it is open for all. any attempt to point out an obious victor would either be pure optimism or a bit too reliant on statastics. but we all know that more than any other sport cricket has this special propensity to defeat logic every now and then. and this tendency of the game gives rise to speculations and hope . So good luck pakistan...

  • Canadia Fan on February 17, 2011, 7:15 GMT

    You guys are all wrong.

    Canada will win this world cup, as they are heavy favourites.

  • Masood Yousfani on February 17, 2011, 6:28 GMT

    Well.. Well .. Its been our past and history, when we are solid as rock we have lost at the end, but when we are under rated , we have exploded like there is no tomorrow to win. if we remember 92 WC, we were no where near winning the cup but we did, in 99 WC, we were the hot favorites but we lost it in horrible way, in 2008 T20 WC, we were on song, lost in the finals , in 2009 T20 WC, we were under rated and we all know who grabbed the cup.

    You never know when we are going to win and when we are going to loose.. thats why its more fun watching pakistan playing.

    after all the flimsy stuff happened in pakistan cricket we are growing in the direction where we definitely cant say yes we will but we can say who knows we might .

    If INDIA Plays Pak in the finals , i am sure 100s of the people will be in hospital due to heart attack if the match is close enough, i will count my self in one of those patients coz i myself is a big supporter of paki team.

    Go Team green Go and get the WC

  • shahid nawaz on February 17, 2011, 5:56 GMT

    in 1st warmup match i see pakistan batting after 6 iwcket loss they two bastman playing were razzaq and umer akmal see which team has 2 dangerous players after six down and bowler like afridi,razzaq,shoaib,saeed ajmaland umargul or may be wahab riaz in playing 11 which team has all layers liek them.pak has good chances

  • waterbuffalo on February 17, 2011, 5:53 GMT

    What is interesting is that Pakistan have worked out their tactics in NZ. Misbah and YK steady the ship after two wickets have gone, and they score 4 or 5 until the 35th over, maybe even 40th, and then the hitters, Umar, Afridi and Razzaq score 100 of the last 10 overs, (okay 90)and we put up a competitive score which we defend with 3 spinners and 3 pacers. So far it has worked. A lot of pundits have overlooked Misbah, and I think they will be surprised. I agree with Kamran coming in at 3, he could bat with Shehzad. If pakistan have wickets in hand at the 40 over mark, we can beat anybody, the ball may spin but it's a slow spin, not fast and bouncy, perfect for our front foot hitters like Razzaq and Afridi. Also, team spirit under Afridi is high, and Pakistan generally do well in India. Here's hoping we get to the final.

  • Harsh Thakor on February 17, 2011, 3:51 GMT

    Pakistan are the dark horses to win the world cup and are the ultimate team to come from behind like a tiger from the woods.No taem can ressurect itself from the grave like Pakistan as they displayed in 1992.In recent months they have displayed graet resilience agaisnt competitive England and South African teams and vanquished New Zealand in New Zealand.It is of immense credit that they ran both England and South Africa so close inspite of the turmoil the team faced in recent months.In both 5 match series the last game was the decider.One win they staged against South Africa chasing 287 runs proved Pakistan's nerves to fight to the last tooth.

    Pakistan has strong batting depth with good batsman at nos.6.7 and 8,like Abdur Razak,Umar Akmal and Shahid Afridi.Razzak is a match-winning allrounder ,Younus Khan has great temperament for batting while on his day Shoab Akhatar can be a menace with his express pace.

    Who Knows,Pakistan may well pull of the Cup !

  • aftab on February 17, 2011, 0:19 GMT

    As much as I'm a fan of Pakistan, my Cricinfo team has more Indian players than Pakistani for a simple reason - the explosivess is good sometime but stability is always good. I have high respect for the ex-bowling of Shoaib Akhtar, but he is clearly not capable of a full match - for God's sake, don't waste a slot. I wish Pakistan lifts the trophy and there is every possibility of that happening, but less than SL, SA and IN. Here's my Pak-11 in batting order. Shehzad, Hafeez, Kamran, Misbah, Umar, Afridi, Razzaq, Shafiq, Wahab, Rehman, Gul with Y. Khan at No. 12. Pakistan need onlt 3 stable positions, 4, 8, 12.

  • Asif on February 16, 2011, 23:10 GMT

    The way pak is playing now under the dynamic captain afridi they will do very well in this wc.Whether they win or not but they will fight till the end.It is a shame that Zaheer Abbas instead of encouraging continue to critisize and undermine Afridi eventhough there r 3 days left for the wc.I don't know why the pak media publish Zaheer's silly statements.The great Imran Khan is absolutely right when he said that Afridi's energitic captaincy,brilliant bowling and fielding is an asset to the team and his batting is a bonus.I have never heard from Zaheer and Amir sohail about Afridi's bowling and fielding and instead they eagarly wait for afridi to fail in batting and start bashing afridi only for everything.The critics should remember that he is the best bowler in the side who can be part of the team just as a bowler.

  • Farman Afridi on February 16, 2011, 19:35 GMT

    INSHALLAH Pakistan team have the ability to beat any team. Pak team have the best Players. GOD bless Pakistan

  • Bismillah Khan on February 16, 2011, 17:26 GMT

    I just wish and pray that PCB does not create any off-field distraction during the WC, and I also hope their latest drama/blunder of not announcing the captain early on has not done much damage. All the best wishes for the Pakistan team.

  • Ace on February 16, 2011, 16:24 GMT

    1> Hafeez 2> Shehzad 3> Younis/Asad 4> Misbah 5> Umar/Kamran Akmal 6> Afridi 7> Razzaq 8> Riaz 9> Ajmal/Rehman 10> Gul 11> Akhtar

    There's no reason why they can't hit the semis with this lineup, Insha'Allah x) One of Razzaq and Afridi, or even a better option in Umar Akmal can be used as the team's hidden ace on the flat subcontinent pitches, send one of them at one down/two down in the knockout matches and just ask him to give a go at a big innings. A pinch hitter like Riaz can be thrown in at the middle order as an alternative to gain some bonus. A bit of wits is exactly what's needed, just something which'd work on the given day, praying for some good tactics to be used by the think tank x)

  • Fazli Raziq on February 16, 2011, 11:41 GMT

    Good fielding, playing full 50 overs and atmost 15 extras in every match of the world cup, plus atleast 30 runs partnership from the openers. Then there will be no team beating Pakistan in my opinions. Then in doubt, Pakistan is amongst the foremost favourits.

  • sachfan on February 16, 2011, 10:31 GMT

    east or west india is the best

  • Salma on February 16, 2011, 10:04 GMT

    AND WHO IS GOING TO LEARN THEM TO AVOID GIVING AWAY SO MANY EXTRA RUNS. in first five overs they gave away more extras than BD gave in all 50 overs. OLD HABIT

  • Deep on February 16, 2011, 7:31 GMT

    ha ha ha aren't you now jinxing the "low expectation advantage" by writing such articles? Truth is that the expectations (and pressure) remain the same as in previous tournaments. The Pak fans commenting also underscore that expectations remain high.

  • Syed Ammar Saeed on February 15, 2011, 9:42 GMT

    Let us see. However, its always pleasing to see comments and support for Pakistan...but again lets see....it may be good..it may be bad...or it may be very good or it may be horrible...with Pakistan playing you can expect any thing...I sometimes say for Pakistan "Take it that we have lost...and if we win..its a bonus"... that helps prevent heart break on our proverbial ability of snatching defeat from.....But unfortunately I myself usually can't follow my own saying...

  • Addas Khan on February 15, 2011, 6:24 GMT

    A very good effort,kamran, in trying to Galavanise and lift the mood of us supporters of pakistani cricket. Yes I agree that this is a very open world cup and anybody could win it. On paper, pakistan aint got a chance, but in a strange kind of way this doesnt matter. The only way pakistan are going to win this is if they do what they do best,get off to a disastrous start and just make it to the QF and then play well for 3 games, job done! But I am afraid those days of Anwar,Inzi,Sohail,Waqar,Wasim,Moin,Saqqi,Yousuf,Aqib are long gone and a QF berth would be a success with the current lot!

  • Taimur Khan on February 15, 2011, 6:14 GMT

    Judging by Indian wickets, if Swann is fit, England will prosper. SA will struggle without a spinner as will Aus but Lee & Tait will reverse. Pak has Rehman & Ajmal plus gul, wahab & shoaib for reverse. Lanka have mendis & co and bangla spinners will do well. India & aus have brilliant upper order who can play spin though watson is critical for aus and yuvraj & raina's form is a worry. while pak lower order afridi & razzaq are key as is shahzad. But yunis & misbah have to play the middle overs. Peterson is key for england but their attack apart from swan is not suited to indian wickets except for mohali & cal. WI & NZ have no chance. semi finalists: Aus, Ind, Pak & lanka. SA has a chance to upset one of the four. Out of the 4 semifinalists Pak has the most balanced team but if indian batting clicks or tait & lee click, they can prevail. Indo pak final would be amazing. Sachin deserves the cup but the indians could end up paying for poor bowling & a formless middle order. Go Pak!

  • Deepak Vashist on February 15, 2011, 5:56 GMT

    Actully pakistan has a potensiol to win this WC. But the problem is that they not play as a unit. Some one perfome in the day and some one perform on the other day. Pakistan have to show, what they r showing against NZ. I think Afridi, Razzak and Umar is the key player in this WC for Pakistan. If they really play on their Basics no one can stop this team to entar in semis. Afridi have to show his leading skills and he has been changing his role now a days. Now he is controling his shots. One more thing which i want to keenly see that how will he be using Razzaq. Razzaq can change the game at any time. In my openion he is the wold's most distroyar player. So best of luck Pakistan

  • Zafar on February 15, 2011, 5:32 GMT

    I really hope Pak do better but something tells me they probably won't due to their public statements thus far. This tells the mood in the dressing room where the captain is basically saying "who cares if we don't win, just go play; don't feel bad if we don't make it". This is what I'm getting when I read Afridi. There is absolutely no show of fight whatsoever or motivation to bring the best out of the players. The team can be dramatically dangerous if the leader knows how to get the best out of them and that is basically done by speeches and communication with the team. Imran Khan anyone? Unfortunately, I don't see this in Afridi. Afridi is a lunatic who doesn't know what to say when in front of the camera. Same thing with past capatain in Inzi, Malik and Younis. Only guy who can speak properly is Misbah so Afridi better speak with him before coming in front of the camera and respect his players during the match. His reaction doesn't support that thus far, hence I have low expectation

  • Biggus on February 15, 2011, 5:19 GMT

    Wow, a really good standard of comments here.@pratik-Good asessment but I'd say India is a better chance than Oz so I'd swap those two around. I think Ind, SL, SA are the front runners with Pak and my Aussies in the 'somewhat less likely' category. We've come over with rather a bits and pieces team and I'd be surprised if we won again as the competition is tough.

  • Nabeel on February 15, 2011, 2:14 GMT

    I know that the wish of all crickete is winning wcup.at the moment that task is depend on the talant of players.today there are lot of talentful teams.but all teams unable to get wc.we all know now india became pioneer in odi.not only india srilanka also.we all know world fastest odi batsman is boom boom afridi.some times afridi can change this situation.because when he catch up any one can't stop it.as well as akthar.the fastest bowler in the world.by GATHERing the power of these both players as well as other players pakistan can be take this valuble frigile and fantastic cup.insha allah god allah with you afridi.

  • sAm on February 15, 2011, 0:49 GMT

    I think if PK team can field well and try to play complete quota of 50 Overs, then we will see our team in Semis. But i also agree with writer, it is good feeling not to have high expectations from team, this will make evey win of Pk team even more interesting. Regards

  • MairaS on February 15, 2011, 0:24 GMT

    @Pratik: I fully agree to your statement. However I would like to add that in pressure situations, Its Australia, Pakistan, India and Srilanka which perform better. South Africa always tend to fail in such situations. England and South Africa are both over rated at the moment. India also doesnt look invincible to me. As far as Pakistan is concerned, the team (and the Pakistanis) know that they are not the favorites and that they are not at their best. This eases a lot of pressure and that might make them a strong contender. So, in my opinion, its Australia, Srilanka, India or Pakistan. In my point of view, South Africa wont be able to win against big teams if the opponents can get hold of Kallis alone.

  • sarakhan on February 14, 2011, 23:53 GMT

    WELL WRITTEN COLOUMN ABBASI, has shoaib akhtar grown his wisdom tooth? shoaib akhtar is giving wise comments since couple of days,before 2 days i thought he never had a brain everyteam wants to win this world cup badly,but pakistan is d only team outta 14 teams who needs to win this cup more badly for obvious reasons if pakistan doesnt win this cup it will be only due to 3 things 1]DISUNITY ,2]FIELDING, 3]FORGETTING D "CORNERED TIGERS" KINGS SPEECH

  • Rana Shahzad on February 14, 2011, 20:44 GMT

    We need to realistic and except that will not win the world cup, the best we can hope for is sami-final, as for the winner i think it will Sri Lanka

  • AM on February 14, 2011, 20:00 GMT

    I truly wish that Pakistan can pull it off again as in 1992. But I also wish that Mr Afridi, whom I greatly admire, would learn to know what to say. Statements like "Pakistan is the most dangerous side in the tournament", or "we should make it to the semi-finals" are setting oneself up for failure. Everybody knows Pakistan can be dangerous. No one ever takes Pakistan lightly. So why state the obvious? Why not just say that Pakistan will give its best, and hope for the best in the tournament? Shoaib Akhtar's comments (whose career I would term as wasted talent) has been far more responsible in his comments this time, and that is the way it should be. Wishing the Pakistan team all the best.

  • pratik on February 14, 2011, 17:15 GMT

    In my book, Indians are not the favorites. Much as I support my own country, the weakness in bowling and lower middle order is too glaring to ignore. Yusuf is good in patches. Raina, Yuvraj and Dhoni are shadows of the players they used to be at their pomp, and they all look jaded. Even the so called reliable top order of Gambhir, Sachin and Sehwag are returning to ODI format after a long time. Pak has as much of a chance as India. if anything, a bit more due to their lower middle order . Probably the Proteas are best placed to win followed closely by Lankans, unless of course, they become too formulaic and choke again. And Aussies are always a threat. Frankly, I dont see the other three in top eight - West Indies, Engalnd or Kiwis lifting the cup. England might have done well, but going by their "tiredness" excuses, they are all but done. It's a 5 horse race, with South Africa, Sri Lanka and Australia being the first tier of favorites, followed closely by India and Pakistan.

  • Omar Hussain on February 14, 2011, 17:03 GMT

    For the first time in many years no team starts as a clear-cut favourite.There is a lot of publicity for India but i don't think they have a world beating attack.Australia and England are coming after a long haul but the Sri Lankans are fresh and getting into their grooves.We will be missing Asif and Aamir but i think the new pace bowlers are doing a reasonable job and lucky for us learning all the while.Our batting is not that weak either and if Razzaq and Afridi get into the mood there is going to be a few surprises for the favourties!You are right our teams is wounded!And being a Pakistani you will know that all hell can let loose if that mood prevails.Come on boys we are all behind you!

  • ashir khan on February 14, 2011, 16:43 GMT

    well, u never know with Pakistan.if they got some momentum, anything can happen.love to see Ahmad shehzad prosper......

  • Faisal Wahab on February 14, 2011, 16:16 GMT

    The Favorite team to win this world cup is India. SL, SA, Eng are the other favorite teams. In the Semi Final Lineup these four teams have strong chances to compete. the team which plays the spinners more efficiently will win on these pitches. I predict a Final between SL vs India. As for Pakistan team more talented and experienced players have been left out of squad for a younger squad. I have my fingers crossed for the fitness of Shoaib Akhtar. Tanvir Ahmed should have given a chance in place of him. Wicket keeper Kamran Akmal should have been played as a batsman and a specialist wicket keeper sarfraz Ahmad must have been given a chance. Fawad Alam should have been in the team alone on his fielding abilities, becos we need good fielders to back our bowlers. Saeed ajmal really has to work hard on his bowling to leave any impression on the batsman. These Changes should have been accounted for to really have some hopes to upset the top teams in the tournament.

  • Sultan on February 14, 2011, 15:02 GMT

    Motivating for all Pakistanis. One small comment Mr Abbasi, "World Cup 2011: March 23, or Republican Day, to be precise."

  • Real on February 14, 2011, 14:59 GMT

    No offense but if its Ind Vs Pakistan in WC games, Pakistan will have real hard time winning. We must check the stats. You will say "The records are made to be broken" but look at Indian side in recent time. No1 in Test No2 in ODI. India has way more better chances of making a better impressions than Pakistan but at the same time Pakistan is known to be a "Fighter" and that can turn the wave around. Afridi is more responsible fielder and bowler than Batsman but if he clicks no one can stop him. But India has 2 of those kinds Viru and Pathan. I vouch for Aus, Ind, SA and England of Srilanka in Semi. Yeah you heard me right. there will be at least 2 or 3 subcontinent teams in the semis. English and SA are playing better cricket and they are in good nick. AUS may look down under but they rise to big occasions you can not put them out of equation in big events like this. But boy Ind vs Pakistan in WC final will be epic. I wish to see Sachin kissing the WC trophy.

  • Asif on February 14, 2011, 14:41 GMT

    Another fantastic post reply by NK. I have read a couple of your replies and they are always spot on, Kamran Abbasi's position may be under threat.

    I must say i am surprised by the pundits and cricket writers, who are hardly giving Pakistan any hope. Pakistan have been written of but this is how we like it. All the pressure is on the host nations and it may be a perfect opportunity for us to sneak into the quarters and semis unnoticed. I honestly feel we have a good a chance as any team on these sub-continent wickets. Our batsmen will enjoy these tracks and our 3 spinners will be handful for all. Add to that, the skill of reverse swing and one of the most devastating lower middle orders and i believe it gives us a very decent ODI side on sub-continent wickets.

  • NK on February 14, 2011, 12:50 GMT

    This World Cup promises to be quite exciting and fairly open, Australia who have played in the last 4 finals and won the last 3 are nowhere near the invincible side they were, which has now given hope and serious optimism to a number of sides, including Pakistan. Add to the fact that the top 8 sides are most likely to be in more and less Qtr Final stages, each team will be thinking that a couple of good games and you are in the final. I think it is down to six sides who have capabalities to win a tournament, India,Sri Lanka, Pakistan from the sub continent and Australia, South Africa & England. Pakistan are in the mix and will fancy their chances if can get to the semis, where i think all would wish for an India v Pakistan final, now that would be something not only for Pakistan Cricket but for cricket in general and of course a Pakistan win.

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  • NK on February 14, 2011, 12:50 GMT

    This World Cup promises to be quite exciting and fairly open, Australia who have played in the last 4 finals and won the last 3 are nowhere near the invincible side they were, which has now given hope and serious optimism to a number of sides, including Pakistan. Add to the fact that the top 8 sides are most likely to be in more and less Qtr Final stages, each team will be thinking that a couple of good games and you are in the final. I think it is down to six sides who have capabalities to win a tournament, India,Sri Lanka, Pakistan from the sub continent and Australia, South Africa & England. Pakistan are in the mix and will fancy their chances if can get to the semis, where i think all would wish for an India v Pakistan final, now that would be something not only for Pakistan Cricket but for cricket in general and of course a Pakistan win.

  • Asif on February 14, 2011, 14:41 GMT

    Another fantastic post reply by NK. I have read a couple of your replies and they are always spot on, Kamran Abbasi's position may be under threat.

    I must say i am surprised by the pundits and cricket writers, who are hardly giving Pakistan any hope. Pakistan have been written of but this is how we like it. All the pressure is on the host nations and it may be a perfect opportunity for us to sneak into the quarters and semis unnoticed. I honestly feel we have a good a chance as any team on these sub-continent wickets. Our batsmen will enjoy these tracks and our 3 spinners will be handful for all. Add to that, the skill of reverse swing and one of the most devastating lower middle orders and i believe it gives us a very decent ODI side on sub-continent wickets.

  • Real on February 14, 2011, 14:59 GMT

    No offense but if its Ind Vs Pakistan in WC games, Pakistan will have real hard time winning. We must check the stats. You will say "The records are made to be broken" but look at Indian side in recent time. No1 in Test No2 in ODI. India has way more better chances of making a better impressions than Pakistan but at the same time Pakistan is known to be a "Fighter" and that can turn the wave around. Afridi is more responsible fielder and bowler than Batsman but if he clicks no one can stop him. But India has 2 of those kinds Viru and Pathan. I vouch for Aus, Ind, SA and England of Srilanka in Semi. Yeah you heard me right. there will be at least 2 or 3 subcontinent teams in the semis. English and SA are playing better cricket and they are in good nick. AUS may look down under but they rise to big occasions you can not put them out of equation in big events like this. But boy Ind vs Pakistan in WC final will be epic. I wish to see Sachin kissing the WC trophy.

  • Sultan on February 14, 2011, 15:02 GMT

    Motivating for all Pakistanis. One small comment Mr Abbasi, "World Cup 2011: March 23, or Republican Day, to be precise."

  • Faisal Wahab on February 14, 2011, 16:16 GMT

    The Favorite team to win this world cup is India. SL, SA, Eng are the other favorite teams. In the Semi Final Lineup these four teams have strong chances to compete. the team which plays the spinners more efficiently will win on these pitches. I predict a Final between SL vs India. As for Pakistan team more talented and experienced players have been left out of squad for a younger squad. I have my fingers crossed for the fitness of Shoaib Akhtar. Tanvir Ahmed should have given a chance in place of him. Wicket keeper Kamran Akmal should have been played as a batsman and a specialist wicket keeper sarfraz Ahmad must have been given a chance. Fawad Alam should have been in the team alone on his fielding abilities, becos we need good fielders to back our bowlers. Saeed ajmal really has to work hard on his bowling to leave any impression on the batsman. These Changes should have been accounted for to really have some hopes to upset the top teams in the tournament.

  • ashir khan on February 14, 2011, 16:43 GMT

    well, u never know with Pakistan.if they got some momentum, anything can happen.love to see Ahmad shehzad prosper......

  • Omar Hussain on February 14, 2011, 17:03 GMT

    For the first time in many years no team starts as a clear-cut favourite.There is a lot of publicity for India but i don't think they have a world beating attack.Australia and England are coming after a long haul but the Sri Lankans are fresh and getting into their grooves.We will be missing Asif and Aamir but i think the new pace bowlers are doing a reasonable job and lucky for us learning all the while.Our batting is not that weak either and if Razzaq and Afridi get into the mood there is going to be a few surprises for the favourties!You are right our teams is wounded!And being a Pakistani you will know that all hell can let loose if that mood prevails.Come on boys we are all behind you!

  • pratik on February 14, 2011, 17:15 GMT

    In my book, Indians are not the favorites. Much as I support my own country, the weakness in bowling and lower middle order is too glaring to ignore. Yusuf is good in patches. Raina, Yuvraj and Dhoni are shadows of the players they used to be at their pomp, and they all look jaded. Even the so called reliable top order of Gambhir, Sachin and Sehwag are returning to ODI format after a long time. Pak has as much of a chance as India. if anything, a bit more due to their lower middle order . Probably the Proteas are best placed to win followed closely by Lankans, unless of course, they become too formulaic and choke again. And Aussies are always a threat. Frankly, I dont see the other three in top eight - West Indies, Engalnd or Kiwis lifting the cup. England might have done well, but going by their "tiredness" excuses, they are all but done. It's a 5 horse race, with South Africa, Sri Lanka and Australia being the first tier of favorites, followed closely by India and Pakistan.

  • AM on February 14, 2011, 20:00 GMT

    I truly wish that Pakistan can pull it off again as in 1992. But I also wish that Mr Afridi, whom I greatly admire, would learn to know what to say. Statements like "Pakistan is the most dangerous side in the tournament", or "we should make it to the semi-finals" are setting oneself up for failure. Everybody knows Pakistan can be dangerous. No one ever takes Pakistan lightly. So why state the obvious? Why not just say that Pakistan will give its best, and hope for the best in the tournament? Shoaib Akhtar's comments (whose career I would term as wasted talent) has been far more responsible in his comments this time, and that is the way it should be. Wishing the Pakistan team all the best.

  • Rana Shahzad on February 14, 2011, 20:44 GMT

    We need to realistic and except that will not win the world cup, the best we can hope for is sami-final, as for the winner i think it will Sri Lanka