As there is a break in the sporting world due to the global pandemic COVID-19, sports lovers are disappointed and they are finding some other ways to enjoy cricket, like reliving classic matches and making some world XIs.
So as a Pakistan fan, I have decided to write about Pakistan’s all-time ODI XI.
1. Saeed Anwar
247 ODIs, 8824 runs at 39.21, 20 centuries
I have selected Saeed Anwar as my first opener, perhaps the best opener Pakistan has ever produced. He was an aggressive opening batsman and occasional slow left-arm orthodox bowler having played most of his cricket between 1989 and 2003.
As an aggressive batsman, he holds the record of most number of centuries for Pakistan, which is 20. He kept the record of highest individual score 194 for almost 12 years until Charles Coventry of Zimbabwe matched the record in 2009 against Bangladesh.
He provided an experienced option at the top of the order having the best batting average at that time.
2. Zaheer Abbas
62 ODIs, 2572 runs at 47.62, seven centuries
Zaheer Abbas is my second opener, fondly called the ‘Run Machine’ due to his nonstop form.
Abbas had a great average of 47.62 against strong bowling attacks of the West Indies and Australia. He played with the likes of Sunil Gavaskar, Sir Viv Richards and Imran Khan.
I did not seen him play but heard from experts that when he started playing then, it was very difficult to get him out.
378 ODIs, 11,739 runs at 39.52, ten centuries
Pakistan’s ex-captain and ex-coach Inzamam-ul-Haq is my first middle-order batsman. He has the most runs by any Pakistani in ODIs.
He was picked by the captain of that time Imran Khan and included in the ICC World Cup in 1992. He played a vital role for Pakistan in the World Cup. He was good in his initial days but as his career went on, his fitness was the biggest concern.
He started his career batting at various positions but he played most of his career at number three. He was just average as a captain but was the best batsman for Pakistan at that time.
4. Javed Miandad
233 ODIs, 7381 runs at 41.70, eight centuries
Javed Miandad, not Pakistan’s but the world’s finest batsman ever, is in my team at number four. He was the most experienced player in the World Cup-winning squad and made massive contributions for Pakistan.
He was famous for playing mind games with bowlers and they were helpless in front of his plans. He was the only batsman who sledged the bowler to distract him. He was famous for imitating Kiran More at the World Cup in 1992.
He has many historical moments but the top of them is hitting a last-ball six against India in the final at Sharjah and becoming a national hero. He was the first player, and one of only two, to have played in six World Cups. The other is Sachin Tendulkar.
5. Muhammad Yousuf
287 ODIs, 9717 runs at 41.88, 15 centuries
At number five, I am going with Muhammad Yousuf, the finest batsman for Pakistan at that time. He played 287 ODIs and scored 9717 runs at a strong average of 41.88.
He made major contributions for the Pakistan team but was involved in controversies also. His consistency was incredible and the team was very dependent on him.
He prefers to bat at number four but he is pushed to bat at number five in this star-studded team.
6. Imran Khan (captain)
175 ODIs, 3709 runs at 33.41, one century, 182 wickets at 26.61
Ex-captain and the current prime minister of Pakistan Imran Khan is also the captain of my team. He was the most successful captain Pakistan has ever produced and one of the best all-rounders of that time.
Besides his leadership, he was valuable with both bat and ball. He was famous for handling pressure situations, which is the quality of a great leader. He used to bat lower down the order and finished some games with his firepower.
He made many contributions for Pakistan but his biggest achievement is winning the ICC World Cup in 1992. He promoted himself at number three in the World Cup final and played a vital innings.
7. Moin Khan (wicketkeeper)
219 ODIs, 3266 runs at 23, 214 catches, 73 stumpings
Ex-coach of Pakistan Moin Khan is the wicketkeeper-batsman in my team. Pakistan has never had a good wicketkeeper-batsman. Some were good at batting but they were just average behind the wickets.
Moin Khan has just average numbers as a batsman but had fabulous keeping, having 214 catches and 73 stumpings. Throughout his career, he had to compete with another wicketkeeper-batsman Rashid Latif. He was the wicketkeeper of the World Cup-winning team.
8. Wasim Akram
356 ODIS, 3717 runs at 16.52, 502 wickets at 23.52
At number eight, I am going with Wasim Akram, perhaps the best fast bowler ever for Pakistan. He had a strong hand on the swing and could swing the ball on both sides. For his incredible swing quality, he was credited with the name ‘Sultan of Swing’.
He was also picked by Imran Khan and then included in World Cup squad. He was phenomenal in the World Cup and was man of the match in the final.
Later he became the captain of the team and led them in the ICC World Cup in 1999. Wasim Akram had changed the dimensions of fast bowling.
9. Saqlain Mushtaq
169 ODIs, 288 wickets at 21.78
The off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq is the only spinner in my team. He made major contributions for Pakistan in the 1999 World Cup.
He is credited with the doosra, an off-spinner’s delivery that swings in the opposite direction with the same bowling action as that of an off break. Moin Khan had given this name.
Saeed Ajmal was another good option but I decided to go with Saqlain Mushtaq.
10. Waqar Younis
262 ODIs, 416 wickets at 23.84
Waqar Younis is at number ten in my team. He made an immediate impression with his speed and the media used to call him the ‘Burewala Express’. Waqar used to open the bowling with Wasim and later they became a feared bowling attack.
Waqar was also famous for his perfect yorkers and that’s why he was named as ‘toe-crusher’. He was the main bowler for Pakistan in the World Cup in 1999 along with Wasim Akram.
11. Shoaib Akhtar
163 ODIs, 247 wickets at 24.97
The ‘Rawalpindi Express’ Shoaib Akhtar is at number 11 in my team. He was the fastest bowler in all formats of cricket with his delivery of 161.3 kilometres per hour. Virat Kohli says that he found Shoaib Akhtar the toughest bowler in his career.
He had bowled with the likes of Wasim and Waqar, making a world-class bowling attack. He had pace, swing and bounce that made him a perfect fast bowler.