Can Pakistan be the giant killers in England this year? Well, if the statistics are to be considered, this is arguably the lousiest time for Pakistan to head into the World Cup. But you know what they say, the term ‘arbitrary’ and the Pakistan cricket team go hand in hand.

Speaking in figures, this Pakistan team post their 2017 Champions Trophy (CT) triumph hasn’t enjoyed a fruitful outing against any top opponent. Mere 15 victories in 38 ODIs (post-2017 CT) represents a dearth of match-winning performances. To make things worse, 12 of those victories have come against Zimbabwe, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. Against top-ranked teams – like Australia, India, South Africa, England and New Zealand – they have won just three of their 23 ODIs.

Despite the defeats, Pakistan have never bowed out of a fight, and their performance against England in the recent series is the perfect specimen of it. But that entity somehow highlights their superiority of the top three batsmen, and on the same platform, the inability of their lower order.

The likes of Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam have been absolute revelation for Pakistan since 2018. The trio has amassed 4066 runs between them since 2018 and their average of 47.83 is only the second best behind India’s top three batsmen (Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli).

Team Mat Runs Ave SR 100s/50s
India 33 5030 59.17 94.74 19/18
Pakistan 33 4066 47.83 87.83 13/20
England 35 4281 46.03 104.28 15/14
West Indies 28 3386 45.75 89.76 11/13
Australia 26 3257 42.85 87.76 10/18
South Africa 27 2854 37.55 89.24 5/16
Bangladesh 27 2786 37.14 83.83 6/21
New Zealand 24 2410 37.07 83.82 6/12
Afghanistan 28 2596 32.86 76.28 4/20
Sri Lanka 26 2040 28.33 87.77 1/12

What follows next is an area of concern. Pakistan’s middle order (four to seven) represents a humongous variable and doesn’t ooze similar confidence to that of their top three batsmen. While they have amassed runs, their average (29.7) and strike rate (87.31) is way below the par.

Team Mat Runs Ave SR 100s/50s
England 35 3606 40.97 97.19 5/24
New Zealand 24 2649 40.75 96.32 4/18
Bangladesh 27 2596 35.56 81.12 2/16
South Africa 27 2332 34.29 89.14 2/11
Australia 26 2899 34.1 92.91 2/15
India 33 2337 32.45 82.81 1/9
Zimbabwe 30 3068 31.95 76.54 3/14
Afghanistan 28 2534 31.28 78.08 1/18
Sri Lanka 26 2541 29.89 85.98 1/12
Pakistan 33 2822 29.7 87.31 2/19
West Indies 28 2506 86.56 86.56 4/12
AFP / Lindsey Parnaby

But however explosive the Pakistani trio be, they take their time to settle in, and, in the process, they usually fail to get the best out of the first powerplay (from over 1-10). In fact, their run rate of 4.69 (post-2015 World Cup) is the second worst amongst the World Cup-bound countries.

As far as their bowling is concerned, the board hogged the limelight when Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz were called back into the team. Wahab, who can terrorize any batting order on his day, remains one of Pakistan’s potent weapons, but the fact that he hasn’t played an ODI in two years might work against him in England. To make things worse, his tally of four wickets in England at an average of 96.25 and an economy of 6.67 is not superior at any stretch of the imagination.

Amir, on the other hand, represents a curious settlement of Pakistan Cricket Board. Out of action for the first four ODIs during the England series due to illness, Amir has always been inconsistent with his bowling. In his last 10 ODIs, he has picked mere two wickets at an average of 148.50. His economy, however, is something which works in his favour. Since the 2017 Champions Trophy final, the pacer has carried an economy of 4.58. However, if the Hong Kong and Zimbabwe games are taken out of the equation, his tally goes to 5.28.

However strange these numbers may sound Pakistan have never been conditioned by them. Were they the favourites to win the Champions Trophy two years back? But well, that’s Pakistan for you. After all, they are the synonyms to unpredictability; at least in the ICC events.