London, May 27 (IANS) Former Pakistan captain and bowling great Waqar Younis feels Sarfraz Ahmed and his boys can pull off an upset this World Cup, much like they did in 1992 by winning the coveted trophy.
“It is 27 years since Pakistan won the World Cup for the first time and this year feels like it did back then,” Waqar was quoted as saying by ICC.
“No one gave us a chance and we arrived as the underdog. But the momentum came and we won the whole thing, that is the beauty of Pakistan cricket.
“I was not part of the team because I was injured just before the World Cup, but I remember the team coming home. The whole country was out on the streets, the lights were on and we had a trophy parade.
“It was party-mode, it was a carnival. Hopefully, that will happen again, but there is work to do,” said Waqar who coached Pakistan, besides being credited with the man who really put the reverse into swing bowling.
In 262 ODIs, Waqar has taken 416 wickets while in 87 Tests, he has returned with 373 wickets to his name.
“I think Pakistan arrive as underdogs and they need to start well. If they lose a couple of early games, then it will be an uphill task for them after that.
“If they don’t start well then the negativity from series defeats to England and Australia could seep back in. They have been losing a few games and need to win early so settle nerves.”
Since winning the Champions Trophy in 2017, Pakistan have won only two of the seven series they have played. The first of these was against a dismal Sri Lankan side and the second was against Zimbabwe. Three of the series defeats have been whitewashes.
Despite that, Waqar feels if Sarfraz and Co. can get their fielding right, they have talent in their arsenal to pull it off.
“The positive for Pakistan is that they have started scoring big totals. They have showed they are capable of scoring 300 plus and we saw that in their series against England.
“The batsman have got used to the surfaces very quickly and have piled on the runs. They are all in good form, especially Babar Azam and Haris Sohail,” he said.
Pakistan lost the series to England 0-4 but managed to put up 300+ totals on three occasions.
Waqar said the top four looks sorted for Pakistan with Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq doing well.
“Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq have also done well so the top four looks really good. That issue has been solved.
“But the biggest issue for me is the fielding. The fielders looked out of sorts in the series against England and that could shake their confidence.
“I am sure that will get a bit better but if the fielders don’t take their chances and catch balls and stop the extra 15 or 20 runs then they could struggle.”
Waqar said he looks forward to watching Mohammad Amir in action, adding the overall bowling is headed in the right direction although they looked all over the place against the mighty English.
“The bowling is moving in a good direction, with Wahab Riaz coming back into the side and Mohammad Amir restored. I am intrigued to see how Mohammad Amir gets on.”
“He is a match-winner, there is no doubt about that. If he gets some rhythm back, then he could be the difference for Pakistan.
“On the flip side, Shaheen Afridi and Mohammad Hasnain are so talented and have long futures ahead of them. I am excited to see what they can do.”
Pakistan will take on West Indies in their opener on May 31.
“That first game against the West Indies will be vital. It is will be worth watching that! Both are very exciting teams and very unpredictable, you never know what you are going to get.
Trent Bridge is a flat pitch too so there will be runs and it will be a fun game.
Despite everything having gone on in the last couple of months, the country is behind the team. They all believe these guys can win the World Cup. If we can get off to a strong start, then you never know this team has a history of producing magic,” the 47-year old said.