posted on 2019-06-29 09:27:09
posted by Manya Pilani
Image Credits: AFP
Every sports team has a tag attached to it - a word or a phrase that condenses the history of that team or the way they play. For instance, the New Zealand cricket team are the ‘perennial underdogs’, Australia are the ‘heavyweights’, unfortunately, South Africa have been associated with the ’c’ word and lately if there’s one tag that Pakistan have well and truly earned, it’s ‘Mercurial’. It’s been heard a lot this World Cup, more notably from Nasser Hussain. It’s been heard so much that if you start taking a shot every time this word was said on air by commentators, you’d probably end up being drunk enough to pull off all those crazy things that mercurial Pakistan manage to do on the field.
A very common trend has popped up on social media, a game - guess which Pakistan team will turn up on a given day.
In their first game of the tournament, Pakistan were shot out for 105 in 21.4 overs against West Indies at Nottingham. In the next game, Pakistan toppled tournament-favorites and home-team England on the same ground, scoring 348 runs. All this within 4 days. And this when Pakistan were just coming off a 4-0 drubbing against the same side in a bilateral series in the same conditions hardly 20 days back. You never know which Pakistan is coming out to play against you.
While Mickey Arthur’s men are dispensing all the ‘cricketainment’ a team possibly can, it wouldn’t hurt Pakistan to infuse a little consistency in the formula they have created.
When Pakistan manage to pull one out of the hat, the match is forever etched into the history of their cricket. And when things go south for the sub-continent side, they can go really south.
Nasser Hussain also coined a line for the Men in Green saying, “Pakistan cricket at its best - one minute up, one minute down.” And the 1992 Champions are thoroughly up at the moment, having beaten South Africa and New Zealand in their last two fixtures. Both wins, in fact, coming out as rather comfortable without the trademark Pakistani blip at the end. However, before these two moments of triumph, Pakistan suffered two consecutive heavy losses against Australia and India, something which should have derailed their entire campaign but didn’t.
So you can see where we are going with this. The rest of the teams are playing cricket, but Pakistan are playing cricket sitting on a see-saw.
Now, with two games left Pakistan are in the reckoning for a place in the knockouts and they have now edged England in being the favorites to take that No. 4 spot at the end of the league stages of this World Cup. If Pakistan can win their last two matches and England lose at least one of their remaining two, Sarfaraz’s men will be through. And Pakistan have a better chance of making it happen because they will be playing against Afghanistan (a team which is yet to win a match in this World Cup) and Bangladesh (who like Pakistan are staking their claim for a semi-final spot).
As Pakistan gear up for keeping the 1992-dream alive, they have to ensure they are not ‘mercurial’ anymore. The challenges that lie ahead seem easier than beating England or New Zealand, at least on paper and the team has hit its straps at the right time - finally getting their team composition right and nailing the execution on the day it matters.
Just recently, Ricky Ponting was caught saying, “Pakistan beat whoever they want to beat and they lose from whoever they want to. It's not Pakistan vs the opposition. It's Pakistan vs Pakistan”.
Hence, Pakistan cricket and its fans don’t want a roller-coaster now. They need a juggernaut. That wouldn’t stop until their last league match against Bangladesh. That wouldn’t stop until they prove that the spooky 1992 coincidences aren’t just coincidences.