Pakistan needs spirit of Imran to steer them to Cricket World Cup glory


The great Khan led Pakistan to victory 23 years ago; the current captain needs some of that "can do" spirit if he wants to follow them into the history books

Reuters |

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Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq, seen here at a press conference ahead of the World Cup, needs some of Imran Khan's spirit

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq needs to adopt the uncompromising attitude Imran Khan employed in 1992 if the class of 2015 want to emulate that triumph at this year’s World Cup, former pace bowler Shoaib Akhtar said.

Very few would have tipped Pakistan to win the showpiece event 23 years ago but Imran’s young team fought back from imminent elimination in the opening round to defeat England in the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, in Australia.

Imran Khan (left) led Pakistan to a surprise win at the 1992 Cricket World Cup. Photo: Associated Press

"The Pakistan team is passing through a very difficult phase after having also lost Muhammad Hafeez. The onus is now on Misbah to set the tone with frontline performances," Shoaib told Pakistani news channel Geo News.

"Imran lifted a deflated side in 1992 to win the World Cup with some great frontline performances. I hope Misbah can do the same with this troubled side."

The talented but unpredictable side are not favourites this time either and their preparations have been hit by injuries to several bowlers, including all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez and paceman Junaid Khan, and the unavailability of leading spinner Saeed Ajmal due to an illegal bowling action.

Ajmal was cleared to bowl again on Saturday after passing biomechanic tests but having pulled out of Pakistan’s World Cup squad in December, he can only be called into the squad if another player withdraws injured.

Former captain Muhammad Yousuf described Pakistan’s plight as "a crisis situation" while Rashid Latif said the team was capable of going deep in the tournament if Misbah rallied his men together.

"There is still loads of talent in this squad and don’t write them off," Latif said.

"Misbah has to make the players believe they are still capable of beating anyone."

Pakistan begin their World Cup campaign against arch-rivals and defending champions India in Adelaide, Australia on February 15. They are in Pool B alongside West Indies, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ireland and United Arab Emirates. The 11th World Cup runs from February 14 to March 29 in Australia and New Zealand. 

Want to know who's playing for each team? Check out the complete squad lists for each of the 14 teams that will be competing for the trophy.