I must confess at the start that no team has fascinated me more in all the years I have covered cricket than Pakistan has. Part of it is probably because I have got to know some of the players but also part of it is to see how a nation that seems to be in perpetual chaos keeps producing quality cricketers.
And so it is at the World T20. I get the feeling sometimes that Pakistan play like there is no tomorrow and so they are ideally suited, temperamentally, to play the shortest form of cricket. And they have a never ending assembly line of bowlers. Bowling gets very little share of voice in our part of the world but a strong bowling side will always win you more games than a strong batting side with ordinary bowling.
That is the reason I think they are joint favorites with Australia; because they have the best bowling side and, especially in these conditions, they have a bowler for every need. Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir and Junaid Khan can all bowl at the death and with three spinners in Hafeez, Afridi and Ajmal, they have twelve overs if needed. If the pitches in Dhaka turn like the one for the Bangladesh vs Afghanistan match, it will be really difficult to look beyond them.
And they have these bursts of action with the bat with players like Ahmad Shahzad, Kamran Akmal and Umar Akmal. Put in Hafeez, Afridi and younger players like Sohaib Maqsood and Sharjeel Khan and you can see why they could get to 150 most days. Their bowling will do a better job of defending 150 than anyone else’s even if the fielding will exasperate bowlers from time to time.
So watch out for Pakistan. They can win it but they are also the only side that can just crash out in spite of all these talents. After a major part of my life watching Pakistan play, I still don’t know what they will come up with.
And hence, the fascination!