“Pakistan cricket at its best, one minute down, the next minute up”. The words of former English captain and current commentator Nasser Hussain during the final of the 2017 Champions Trophy final between India and Pakistan perfectly sums up the mercurial nature of the Pakistan cricket team. The team which started its campaign disastrously by suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of its arch rivals managed to stage a historic comeback to find itself at the top of the world. But this isn’t the first time a Pakistani team has managed to surprise the world. In the past, there have been numerous occasions when a Pakistani side has defied all odds to reign supreme in supposedly impossible situations. So today, let us take a look at 5 games that prove the fact that Pakistan cricket team is indeed the most unpredictable side in the world.
- Coca Cola champions trophy 3 match vs. Sri Lanka
Pakistan was in trouble after setting a target of just 197 runs in the third ODI of the Coca Cola champions trophy against Sri Lanka. In reply, Sri Lanka was on top having scored 173 runs with the loss of just three wickets in the 40th over. With just 24 runs required from the last 10 overs, all signs were pointing towards a comfortable victory for Sri Lanka. However, in the 41st over, Wasim Akram managed to pick up the wicket of Sanath Jayasuriya. In his very next over, the former Pakistan captain castled Arvinda de Silva to bring Pakistan back into the game. With just 11 runs required off 25 balls, odds were still in favor of the Sri Lankan team. Soon after, in a scintillating spell, Abdul Razzaq demolished the Sri Lankan batting line up, picking up 4 wickets in just 9 balls without giving away any run. A runout and some brilliance from Razzaq meant that Sri Lanka lost 7 wickets for just 23 runs getting bowled out for 196 in the process. While the record books show that the match tied, in reality, Pakistan managed to put on a special performance to squeeze a draw from an unlikely position.
- 3rd test vs. Sri Lanka at Sharjah
Sri Lanka was leading the series coming into the third test match against Pakistan. The men in green had the final opportunity to level the series, however, a first innings lead of 87 and a batting run rate of less than three in both innings gave Sri Lanka an edge. For most part of the four days, the test match had been extremely slow with Sri Lanka clearly pushing for a draw in order to claim the series. The strategy almost worked as the men in green had to chase a target of 302 with almost 60 overs left in the game. While most people expected Pakistan to come out and look to survive, the men in green turned the test match on its head. Both openers Ahmed Shehzad and Khurram Manzoor were looking to score quickly but the quest for quick runs meant that the team lost 3 wickets with just 97 runs on the board. What can be labeled as a master stroke, Misbah Ul Haq decided to promote Sarfraz Ahmed up the order. The wicket keeper batsman hadn’t yet confirmed his spot in the side, but this was the game that proved to be the turning point in Sarfraz’s career. From the very first ball, he took the momentum of the game away from Sri Lanka and despite only making 48 runs the match was now in favor of Pakistan. A brilliant hundred from Azhar Ali and a quick 68 from Misbah meant that Pakistan pulled off a record chase to level the series.
- 2nd ODI vs. South Africa
In the year 2013, Pakistan played three bilateral ODI series against South Africa. After being hammered by South Africa in the first of these two series, the men in green got off to a good start winning the first game of the 3 match ODI series. Despite the absence of spear head fast bowler; Mohammed Irfan, the emergence of Bilawal Bhatti and Anwar Ali gave the team the boost it required. In a rain affected game, Pakistani batsmen upped their game and posted a total of 262 in 45 overs. Among the runs was Ahmed Shehzad who crafted a brilliant century to put Pakistan in a strong position. In reply, some fireworks from AB de Villiers meant that South Africa just required 44 runs in the last seven overs with seven wickets in hand. That is when Junaid Khan claimed the wicket of the South African captain to turn the momentum of the game in Pakistan’s favor. Some great support from Saeed Ajmal on the other end meant that South Africa required 9 runs from the last over. Junaid Khan then preceded to ball a brilliant over giving away just 7 runs and picking up a wicket to help Pakistan claim its first ODI series victory in South Africa.
- Semi Final of the 1992 world cup vs. New Zealand
Pakistan had a rocky road in the group stages of the 1992 world cup however, the team peaked at the right time to qualify for the semifinals. Despite having beaten New Zealand in the group stages of the tournament, the men in green faced a stiff challenge against the home side at Auckland. The task was made even more daunting after New Zealand batted first and posted a total a target of 263 for Pakistan to chase. At one stage, it seemed like Pakistan was out of the game when they required 123 runs in the last 15 overs. However, Inzamam Ul Haq crafted his greatest innings ever to demolish the Kiwis. The former Pakistan captain managed to score a 60 from just 37 balls to knock New Zealand out of the world cup. Pakistan managed to qualify for the final of the world cup where the team defeated England to become the world champions.
- Final of the Champions trophy 2017 vs. India
Pakistan’s entire campaign of the 2017 Champions trophy was filled with unpredictability. After losing the first game against India, the men in green managed to surprise the world to qualify for the final by defeating South Africa, Sri Lanka, and England to set up perhaps the biggest India vs. Pakistan final of the champions trophy 2017. While the odds were in favor of the Indian team, the Pakistani side had managed to surprise the world with its brilliant bowling. Winning the toss and bowling first, the Indian team got off to a horrible start after getting the wicket of Fakhar Zaman of a no-ball. From there Pakistan never looked back and a century from Zaman, along with useful contributions from Mohammed Hafeez and Azhar Ali helped Pakistan to post a strong total of 338. In reply, the Indian team got off to a terrible start losing three wickets to a fired up Mohammed Amir with just 33 runs on the board. With the top 3 batsmen back in the pavilion, the Pakistani bowlers demolished the Indian batting lineup picking up wickets at regular intervals. The Indian team was eventually bowled out for 158 runs and Pakistan managed to claim a historic victory.
All of these matches clearly illustrate how Pakistan has the tendency to trouble any opposition on its day and duty to this ability the team is undoubtedly the most unpredictable team in sports.