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Unpredictable Pakistan pin hopes for World Cup glory on young team
Pakistan's World Cup Profile

Unpredictable Pakistan pin hopes for World Cup glory on young team

Pakistan are pinning their hopes for World Cup 2019 glory on a crop of youngsters who have the talent to beat anybody but could also pay for their lack of experience.

The side have only won the showpiece 50-over tournament once – under the captaincy of current Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in 1992.

Khan, a swashbuckling all-rounder in his playing days, tipped 20-year-old leg-spinner Shadab Khan as a potential trump card when he met the squad last month.

Pakistan stole a march on their rivals by arriving early in England to play a five-match ODI series, although they suffered a chastening 4-0 defeat.

Also Read: Mohammad Amir, Asif Ali, Wahab Riaz make the cut in Pakistan's final World Cup squad

‘Players are determined to do well’ – Arthur

Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur was not too despondent after his side lost the fifth and final ODI on Sunday, saying they had learned lessons despite their drubbing.

"I know there's not too many teams who will arrive in England as prepared as we are in terms of the competition we've played against and match fitness," said Arthur.

"All I know is the players are very determined to do well. Every time they go out there they play for 210 million people.

"We'll be ready -- come the first game against the West Indies, we'll be ready."

 Pakistan squad for 2019 World Cup ©Cricingif

Pakistan squad for 2019 World Cup ©Cricingif

Pakistan boast enviable options in attack, with 19-year-olds Shaheen Shah Afridi and Mohammad Hasnain part of a pace battery led by Mohammad Amir and Hasan Ali.

Shaheen offers a wicket-taking threat with his steep bounce while Hasnain has the ability to unsettle batsmen with sheer pace, sending down thunderbolts at 150 kilometres per hour (93 miles per hour).

Twenty-four-year-old Hasan Ali, touted for his ability to strike in the middle overs of matches, has already made a name for himself and has useful experience of English conditions.

Also Read: Wahab Riaz aims to keep things simple on flat English decks

Hasan grabbed 13 wickets to help Pakistan win the Champions Trophy in England two years ago, finishing as player of the tournament.

Aside from the pacemen, Shadab and Imad Wasim are an effective spin duo who can stem the flow of runs and also take wickets.

Batting led by top-ranked Babar Azam

Pakistan's batting is more vulnerable but is led by the dependable Babar Azam, 24, who is ranked seventh in the ODI batting rankings and scored a century against England at Trent Bridge last week.

Imam-ul-Haq, 23, has had to cope with allegations of nepotism over his selection -- he is the nephew of chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq -- but has come out fighting, smashing 151 against England in Bristol earlier this month.

And fiery Fakhar Zaman, 29, can be a matchwinner with his never-say-die approach.

Also Read: Shadab Khan declared fit for World Cup

The experienced trio of Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez and captain Sarfraz Ahmed give solidity to the batting while Haris Sohail is a useful player.

Pakistan's unpredictability means they can beat any side but they could also lose to weaker teams if things do not go their way.

Never was their Jekyll and Hyde character more clearly shown than at the 2017 Champions Trophy in England, where they were crushed by 124 runs by India in their opening match but hit back to beat their fierce rivals by 180 runs in the final.

 Mohammad Amir's ODI career over the years ©Cricingif

Mohammad Amir's ODI career over the years ©Cricingif

Also Read: Asif Ali to play in World Cup despite death of his daughter

Their 1992 World Cup triumph and World T20 title in 2009 also came against the odds.

Arthur said he disliked the tag of unpredictability, asking critics to judge his team as a well-prepared unit and said his side had "fire in their belly".

"Unpredictable is a word that we as a coaching staff hate," said Arthur.

"You read all the previews now, they say Pakistan are going to be in the top four because of their unpredictability. I say 'no, Pakistan are going to be in the top four because of the work we have put in, in their skills'."

Arthur is entitled to his opinion but fans relish Pakistan's fluctuating moods.

They love not knowing what to expect and the 2019 World Cup will be no different.