New Delhi :
Pakistan will prepare for the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup by playing five ODIs and a one-off T20I against England starting May 5, just before the start of the mega event. They will also play four practice matches to get suited to the conditions and expect to have a replay of their performance in the Champions Trophy 2017. This preparation looks good enough for them and will definitely help them by the time the competition starts.
The Sarfraz Ahmed-led side is considered to be the dark horses of the tournament, given that that they are coming off a 0-5 whitewash at the hands of Australia in UAE. They are quite unpredictable when it comes to consistently performing in the big tournaments. However, Shoaib Akhtar feels that the Men in Green will make it to the knockout stages of the World Cup.
He played in three World Cups for his country, reaching the finals in 1999 and semi-finals in 2011. Pakistan lost to Australia in the final and went down to India in the 2011 edition. But here, Akhtar feels Pakistan has the goods to make it to the semis. “I think Pakistan can be one [of] the [more] favourable contenders to [reach the] semis,” he was quoted as saying by Business Recorder.
Akhtar felt that the format of the 2019 World Cup will suit Pakistan as the team tends to warm up after 3-4 games, something that also happened in the 1992 edition when the round robin format was utilized. The former speedster also added that the senior players need to take the responsibility and lead from the front, given that many of them might be appearing in their final World Cup event.
“Some five players are going to get retired, and they will not get a chance again to play the World Cup, so it is a huge burden on these players to perform,” the 43-year-old further said.