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ICC World Cup 2023: Former Captain Wasim Akram Bullish On Pakistan’s Chances In India

Pakistan won five of their nine matches at the 2019 50-over World Cup, but narrowly missed out on qualifying for the semi-finals of the event due to inferior net run rate. 

ICC World Cup 2023: Former Captain Wasim Akram Bullish On Pakistan’s Chances In India Photo: ANI

Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram believes his former side has enough quality in their ranks to be a major player at ICC Men’s ODI Cricket World Cup 2023. Akram was part of the famous team that helped Pakistan claim their only World Cup title at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in 1992, and the legendary pacer thinks a second trophy can be clinched if their best players can remain fit and in form.

Pakistan are led by the No.1-ranked ODI batter in Babar Azam and have an experienced group of players to support him. The ICC on Tuesday announced the schedule of the One Day international (ODI) of the World Cup, with the first match to be played between England and New Zealand at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Gujarat's Ahmedabad on October 5.

India and Pakistan will square off at the same venue on October 15, the ICC announced. The final will also be played at the same venue.

Mohammad Rizwan, Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman will be among the key batters, while Pakistan can turn to a pace attack that includes Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah. All the ingredients are there for Pakistan to be among the favourites to claim a second World Cup title this year and Wasim expects the conditions that teams will face in India during the tournament will also favour his former side.

“We have a good side...a very good one-day side and are led by one of the modern-day greats in Babar Azam,” Wasim Akram told the ICC.

“As long as they are fit and as long as they play according to the plan, they will have a chance of doing well in that World Cup because it is played in our type of conditions in India on the sub-continent,” the former Pakistan captain said.

Pakistan won five of their nine matches at the most recent edition of the 50-over World Cup, but narrowly missed out on qualifying for the semi-finals of the 2019 event due to inferior net run rate. Their form since that tournament has been excellent, with Babar's side having lost just nine 50-over contests since then to currently be ranked second on the ODI team rankings.

Babar Azam has been a model of consistency during that strong run, with the right-hander having scored eight of his 18 ODI centuries since the 2019 tournament to maintain his stranglehold on the premier position in the ODI batter rankings.

Wasim Akram is a massive fan of Babar and would not be surprised to see the inspirational Pakistan skipper raise his game even further during the World Cup. “I think he can (get better) as he is the best player we have,” Akram noted.

“The whole country follows him, everything he does. He gets people into the stadium and it doesn't matter whether it is T20, one-dayers or Test cricket and, in my opinion, he has the most beautiful cover drive in the world,” he added.