A Pakistani Dream Team
If you were picking Pakistan’s greatest ODI XI of all-time, who would be the first names on your team sheet?
Pakistan won the 1992 Cricket World Cup. Naturally, players from that squad who helped them win the title have to be in their best ever XI. It helps that a lot of those players went on to become some of the finest ODI players ever.
The likes of Wasim Akram and Imran Khan were instrumental to Pakistan’s success. But who else makes the all-time XI?
Saeed Anwar and Shahid Afridi
Saeed Anwar is recognised by some as Pakistan’s most elegant batsman to watch. In 247 ODI’s, Anwar scored 8824 runs at an average of 39.21. He scored 20 centuries and 43 half-centuries in an illustrious career. He had a fantastic 1999 Cricket World Cup, where he scored 368 runs at 40.89. This included a brilliant century in the semi-final against New Zealand to help Pakistan cruise to the final by 9 wickets.
Shahid Afridi was a dynamic all-rounder. His ability to open the batting and bowl as the second spinner helps give this side depth. Afridi stroked the then fastest ODI century in 1996 against Sri Lanka in just 37 balls. His strike rate of 117 will help this team get explosive starts. Afridi’s leg-spin was deadly on his day and often he could bowl very economically.
Two excellent openers with contrasting styles in Pakistan’s Greatest ODI XI.
Inzamam-Ul-Haq, Javed Miandad and Mohammed Yousuf
Inzamam-Ul-Haq is the highest run-scorer for Pakistan in ODI cricket history. He has scored nearly 12,000 ODI runs at an average of 39.52. He was a very consistent ODI batsman during his career. Inzamam-Ul-Haq scored 10 centuries and 83 half-centuries.
“NZ tour not that easy.” says Inzamam-Ul-Haq
Javed Miandad is widely rated as Pakistan’s greatest batsman of all-time. He scored 7381 ODI runs at an average of 41.70. Javed Miandad excelled at the 1992 Cricket World Cup. He scored 437 runs at an average of 62.43. He scored half-centuries in both the semi-final and the final to help Pakistan win the tournament. Comfortably makes it into Pakistan’s Greatest ODI XI.
Mohammed Yousuf is an underrated ODI player. He scored 9720 runs at an average of 41.71. In the 1999/2000 Asia Cup, Yousuf scored 295 runs at an average of 147.50. His batting performances were largely responsible for helping Pakistan win the tournament. He scored a century against India at the tournament and also 80 against Bangladesh and 90 against Sri Lanka.
The All-Rounder and Wicketkeeper
Imran Khan (C) and Moin Khan (WK)
Imran Khan came out of retirement to lead Pakistan to their greatest triumph in cricket. They won the 1992 Cricket World Cup against all the odds. Imran Khan despite having a poor tournament personally, captained the team magnificently and called them “cornered tigers.”
However, he stepped up against England in the final scoring a fantastic 72 to help Pakistan win. He also took the final wicket to bring the curtains on an illustrious cricketing career.
Pakistan has seldom had solid wicketkeeper batsmen, especially in ODI cricket. Moin Khan was perhaps the best of the lot. He only averaged 23 in ODI cricket and never scored a century. However, he was a great gloveman and could chip in handy runs. Therefore he makes this ODI side.
Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar
Perhaps the greatest asset in Pakistan’s Greatest ODI XI of all time.
Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar were described by Allan Donald as “comfortably the three best pacers on display at the 1999 Cricket World Cup.”
Shoaib Akhtar was all about pace. He recorded the fastest bowl ever bowled in cricket at 161.3 kph vs England in Newlands at the 2003 Cricket World Cup. He would scare batsmen with terrifying speed and his long run-up. Bob Woolmer was rumoured to have said that “Shoaib Akhtar should have cut his run-up to lengthen his career. However, his ego was too big for anyone to tell him otherwise.”
“Lack of training may hurt Pakistan team in New Zealand.” says Wasim Akram
Wasim Akram was comfortably the most skilled out of the three pacers. His left-arm angle was something that many teams did not have at their disposal. He adds variety to this attack. But Wasim’s skills were such that other players feared him because they could not work out which way the bowl was going to move. He bowled perhaps his two best deliveries in the 1992 Cricket World Cup final to help Pakistan beat England.
Had Waqar Younis been more focused on statistics, he might have had the best stats out of the three. However, his bowling average of just below 24 is still very strong. Waqar Younis swung the ball in at alarming pace and would disturb the stumps at regular occurrences. He was deadly with the old ball with reverse swing, as were the other two pacers too.
Three genuine greats in Pakistan’s greatest ODI XI.
Saqlain Mushtaq is the main spinner in Pakistan’s greatest ODI XI and will compliment Shahid Afridi’s leg-spin with his off-breaks. Saqlain Mushtaq has the best bowling average out of any bowler in this side.
Sajid Khan says “I was inspired by Saqlain Mushtaq.”
In 169 ODI’s he picked up 288 wickets – which means that he is up there with the best spinners of all-time. In his peak, he was almost unplayable and troubled even the best players of spin worldwide.
He is perhaps best known for pioneering the doosra, which since has become a regular in the armoury for off-spin bowlers.
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