It’s all going according to plan for Pakistan, as some Pakistan cricket fans might like to say and think.
And by that, they mean how the results have been amazingly similar to those in the 1992 World Cup, which Pakistan ended up winning.
The similarities between ‘92 and now
Pakistan lost their opening game to Windies by a big margin back then, and it was a similar result this time around as well.
In their next game, they defeated Zimbabwe after batting first, and this time they have beaten hosts England after batting first.
Pakistan’s third game was washed out against England back in ‘92, and this time it was washed out against Sri Lanka.
In the fourth game, they lost against India in ‘92 chasing, and this time, they lost against Australia, chasing.
Pakistan then went on to lose their next match as well in ‘92, against South Africa, chasing in a rain interrupted match, and this time they lost against India, chasing in a rain interrupted match.
In their sixth game, they came back to life after batting first and beating Australia in ‘92; and this year, they defeated South Africa, after batting first and defending the score.
And in their seventh game, they defeated a New Zealand team, which was unbeaten till then; they have done the same this time around too.
What the differences are
While there are a few more similarities like two new white balls being used per innings from both ends, and an Aladdin movie being released, there are a few key differences.
For one, that World Cup in ‘92 featured nine teams, whereas this one has one more, and two new teams in Afghanistan and Bangladesh, Pakistan’s next two opponents coincidentally.
Pakistan might just have to win one game out of those two matches, and if they have a good enough net run rate, they should be able to qualify, especially if England fail to win both their remaining games against India and New Zealand.
But it won’t be so simple as Pakistan’s hit and miss batting along with Afghanistan’s brand of cricket, which seems like a spin-off from Pakistan’s has all the makings of an upset.
While the Afghan batting has not been good enough, the bowling has shown that it can do the job in the last few games.
And then there is Bangladesh, who have been consistently good with the bat, and are starting to find rhythm with the ball; and Shakib Al Hasan is well on his way to becoming man-of-the-tournament.
Both these matches, promise to be feisty encounters where emotions among fans will be at a massive high, especially given the history between each country.
But it cannot be denied, that this Pakistan bowling attack is turning out to be one of the best this tournament, and if Babar Azam can maintain his amazing form, they can win against any team on their day.
After the match against New Zealand, Babar did call his unbeaten ton his “best innings”.
“The wicket was difficult and turned a lot in the second half. The plan was to go through to the end and give my 100%,” Babar explained.
“When we started, the plan was to see out (Lockie) Ferguson. But when (Mitchell) Santner came on, the plan became not to give wickets to him and cover up later when the fast bowlers come on,” he concluded.
And they did exactly that, to chase down the total, though it remains a mystery if they can chase down a big total.
However, given their bowling attack led by Mohammad Amir - who already has 19 wickets - with Shadab Khan’s leg spin, Wahab Riaz and Shaheen Afridi’s rediscovery of pace and form, they might not have to chase much.
One thing is for sure, this World Cup has come to life and so too has a team which lost ten straight ODIs leading up to the tournament, Pakistan.