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At T20 World Cup, ‘cornered’ Pakistan again look to prove a point

The T20 cricket showpiece starts Saturday

SAMAA | - Posted: Oct 15, 2021 | Last Updated: 2 months ago
Posted: Oct 15, 2021 | Last Updated: 2 months ago

Photo: AFP

The spirit of bouncing back as ‘cornered tigers’ gave Pakistan their most storied achievement in their cricketing history when they won the 1992 World Cup under the leadership of now prime minister Imran Khan.

The Pakistan team, young and exuberant, fought back after a run of losses in the early stages of the event to become the world champions after Imran inspired them to roar like tigers, which are caged, and have no option but to seek freedom and glory.

Pakistan are cornered again, as they look to start their ICC Men’s T20 World Cup campaign. This time, the reasons are not cricketing.

The national side was snatched from their opportunity to prepare for the T20 cricket’s showpiece event when New Zealand, citing security fears — decided to abandon their tour to Pakistan on the eve of the first of the three scheduled One-day Internationals, which were to be followed by five highly-crucial T20 International games.

It was followed by England and Wales Cricket Board calling off their two-match T20I tour to Pakistan. The series of events, while hurting the national side’s international calendar, also hurt the sentiment and self-esteem of Pakistan as a cricketing nation.

New Zealand and England did cite reasons for what they did. The BlackCaps said their government wanted them to abort the tour. The ECB cited players’ “mental health concerns” and later, were bashed by not only the global cricket community, but the UK government as well — which said it had no say in the board’s decision.

According to many, it was a part of a conspiracy led by the cricketing world’s giants India, whose financial power keeps the sport alive globally.

When Babar Azam’s men enter the Dubai Cricket Stadium circle on October 24, they’ll be up against India and emotions are expected to run high. Pakistan have never won a match against their archrivals in the World Cup. This time, the Green Team has more than one reason to finally break the streak.

Their next match will be against the New Zealanders at Sharjah and it will remind the Pakistan squad of the day when the spectators at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium were left waiting for the toss which never took place.

In their third Super-12 Group ‘2’ match, Pakistan clash with Afghanistan, who are gradually getting rid of their profile as minnows.

The other Group ‘2’ teams will be decided after the end of a qualifying Round ‘1’, which includes Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea and Scotland to get into the Super 12 which is being played exclusively in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. It starts with co-hosts Oman taking on Papua New Guinea on Saturday.

Pakistan can face England only if the two sides make it to the semi-finals. The top ranked T20 team in the world, are placed in Group ‘1’ of the Super 12 stage, and will start their World Cup run against defending champions West Indies on October 23.

While Pakistan are placed third in the ICC T20 Rankings, New Zealand, England and India are being touted as the favourites to win the trophy.

Indian captain Virat Kohli will be looking for a fairytale ending to his leadership of India’s Twenty20 team as he chases an elusive first major title at the World Cup.

England also remain one of the tournament favourites as they seek their first T20 world title since 2010 and aim to become the first team to hold both limited-overs trophies at the same time after winning the 2019 50-over World Cup.

New Zealand will find inspiration from their ICC World Test Championship title by proving their prowess as the world top T20 side. While, West Indies, with their flamboyance, would want to retain the title.

Among these giants, it is to be seen if Pakistan are successful in reminding the world that they are a relevant cricketing power and cannot be written off.

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T20 World Cup, Pakistan cornered tigers, Pakistan T20 World Cup, ICC Men's T20 World Cup
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