In a little more than a month, Pakistan will return to the land where it achieved its greatest cricketing triumph: winning the 1992 World Cup. For the first time since that memorable day in the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground, the World cup is being held jointly by Australia and New Zealand. For Pakistan, the bar has understandably been set high, a fact the team is well aware off.

The run up to the tournament has been rocky for the men in green; yet, the present administration has acquitted itself quite professionally in some regards. The selection committee, for once, has foregone politically motivated choices and selected a well-balanced squad, with emphasis on young blood. On the fast pitches down under, Pakistan has gone with five pacers, making for a potent attack, even if the veteran Umar Gul has been omitted. The frequent court cases and chairmanship squabbles have distracted the team throughout 2014, but the issue seems to be settling down, just at the right time. The administrations’ biggest failure will remain the inability to anticipate the impending ICC crackdown on illegal bowling actions, and the lethargy displayed in rehabilitating the players in danger. The ban on Saeed Ajmal, whose spellbinding trickery with the ball earned him the moniker of “The Magician” will be a great blow. In recent years he has emerged as Pakistan saviour time and again, and without him in the team, Pakistan’s team loses a little star power. Mohammad Hafeez’s handy spin bowling will also be missed.

This tournament will mark the twilight of three of Pakistan’s greatest cricketers’ careers; Pakistan’s most successful captain; Misbah-ul-Haq, the veritable wall of the middle order: Younis Khan and the mercurial one man battering ram: Shahid Afridi. The three men have been a constant fixture in recent history and have been the source of countless, priceless memories. This will be perhaps the last lime to catch the three in action. At cricket’s greatest stage, all three will look to end their careers on a high.

2014 has characteristically been a year of highs and lows; while Pakistan has been a superb in the baggy whites, they haven’t managed to win a single ODI tournament this year. Despite this, they have produced some truly exceptional cricket in that time. With South Africa and Australia’s strong favourites going into the Cup, Pakistan will find it hard to repeat the heroics of 1992; yet cricket’s most unpredictable side might have a few surprises up its sleeve. Pakistan’s campaign kicks off with a mouth-watering clash with arch-rivals India, promising an exciting tournament.