The upcoming cricket world cup is the first of its kind in a very long time. After almost 19 years since the 1996 World Cup, there is not one team you could bet your entire savings on.

Australia, India and England (the big three as they are being called now since the structural change in the ICC) have very conveniently played a tri-series in Australia just a couple of weeks before the start of the World Cup. New Zealand and Sri Lanka have played a 7 match ODI series in New Zealand which is also co-hosting the World Cup. South Africa has played a home series against West Indies, which ended a few days ago. All of these teams have played on pitches that are fast and bouncy which will aid the World Cup since they are quite familiar with the conditions. Pakistan on the other hand has played two back-to-back series in the UAE where the conditions are the opposite. The pitches in UAE are slow and dominantly spinning surfaces where Pakistan has done well over the past few years. However, the challenge in front of Pakistan is Australia, and the pitch will be a shock to them. Two weeks is nearly not enough for them to acquaint themselves to the conditions in Australia and New Zealand especially when Pakistan has always had difficulties on bouncing wickets.

According to Pakistan’s head coach Waqar Younis, he is delighted not to be one of the favourites to win the World Cup. He claims it will reduce the pressure of expectations on the players. Living in a country like Pakistan where the nation bands together only on two instances – fighting terrorism (recently) and Pakistan winning a cricket tournament – Waqar Younis’ statement is a reality to not expect much from the weak team. He seems to be preparing the nation for defeat more than he is encouraging the Pakistani cricket team to rise up to the expectations and win. However, he is not wrong. The team under Misbah’s captaincy won a test series in UAE against Australia after two decades and then drew the test series against New Zealand. The performances were so strong that they overshadowed the ground reality. As an emotional nation, we started looking at it as a resurrection. But we forget that test matches and ODIs are a completely different case and that just before the epic test series against Australia, they thrashed us in the ODIs. Then when it came to an ODI series against New Zealand we lost that as well. The odds are stacked against us. On a positive note however, Pakistan’s unpredictability has always a constant. Hence we continue to cautiously, perhaps foolishly, hope.