Imagine the result of a match between the best World Cup XI or 15-member squad from Pakistan, and any team in the world, anywhere in the world. No matter how strong the other team might be, Pakistan’s best might be too good for them, because they feature players who have had a great record in the World Cup, with some managing to even lift the trophy. Let’s select the best 15 players to represent us in a World Cup that might happen someday, irrespective of time, space and generation gap, featuring players with a phenomenal record in the mega event.
He was the architect of Pakistan’s victory in 1992 where he scored twin centuries; add another one that was scored five years earlier and you have Rameez Raja, Pakistan’s first batsman to score three centuries in World Cups. His record was equaled by his opening partner Saeed Anwar who scored twin centuries in 1999, and another in one of his final matches in 2003. Just imagine Rameez Raja and Saeed Anwar opening the innings in a World Cup match and scoring centuries for Pakistan, providing them with an ideal start. And if you want a backup opener, who better than Rameez’s idol Majid Khan, who represented Pakistan in the first two World Cups and had a decent record in the king of all competitions.
Rameez Raja 16 matches, 700 runs, Highest Score 119*, Average 53.84, 3 100s, 2 50s
Saeed Anwar 21 matches, 915 runs, Highest Score 113*, Average 53.82, 3 100s, 3 50s
Majid Khan 7 matches, 359 runs, Highest Score 84, Average 51.28, 0 100, 5 50s
The Middle Order That Never Disappoints
Just imagine Asif Iqbal, Javed Miandad, Zaheer Abbas and Saleem Malik all in their prime form, present in a middle-order, against the best bowlers in the world. I would rather side with these batsmen than with any bowler because I know the outcome. Javed Miandad remains Pakistan’s only batsman to cross the 1000-run barrier in World Cup and that includes a victory in 1992 where he played an integral role. Then there is Zaheer Abbas who represented Pakistan in the first three World Cups and helped Pakistan reach the semi-final on two occasions with his gutsy stroke play. Asif Iqbal may have played fewer matches than all, but he crossed 50 three times in his four outings at a time when not losing your wicket was a priority. And finally, there was Saleem Malik who despite his weak record in alternate World Cup events had a better record than others.
Asif Iqbal 5 matches, 182 runs, Highest Score 61, Average 45.50, 0 100, 3 50s
Zaheer Abbas 14 matches, 597 runs, Highest Score 103*, Average 49.75, 1 100, 4 50s
Javed Miandad 33 matches, 1083 runs, Highest Score 103, Average 43.32, 1 100, 8 50s
Saleem Malik 27 matches, 591 runs, Highest Score 100, Average 32.83, 1 100, 4 50s
The One and Only
And then comes the skipper, the only Captain to have lifted the trophy for Pakistan, and still being selected as the Dream Team Captain whenever and wherever that is chosen to this date. He was one of the first players (along with Javed Miandad) to represent their country in five World Cups and his third time (as Captain) was the charm as he led a team of youngsters from the front and ended up hitting a six at the huge MCG, and taking the final wicket to seal the Cup. His record has been as good as any batsman or a bowler and that’s the reason he is the Skipper of the star-studded side.
Imran Khan 28 matches, 666 runs, Highest Score 102*, Average 35.05, 1 100, 4 50s, 34 wickets, Best Bowling 4/37, Average 19.26
The Man Behind The Wicket
He might not have been the best Pakistani wicket-keeper but Moin Khan was instrumental in the two World Cup campaigns he was part of. In 1992, it was his shot that sent Pakistan into the final. Seven years later, his batting proved to be devastating for all the bowlers around the world, including Glenn McGrath of Australia, the eventual winners. His record is the best among all Pakistani Wicket-keepers and that’s why he will make it to the final fifteen as the only custodian of the wickets.
Moin Khan 20 matches, 286 runs, Highest Score 63, Average 28.60, 1 50, 30 Dismissals
The Best Of Both Worlds
With Imran Khan in the side, you don’t need another all-rounder but when the player’s name is Wasim Akram, you automatically select him for he is the best ODI bowler of all time. It was his superb bowling in 1992 that saw Pakistan win the final; his batting in the innings before also saw Pakistan post a defendable total against Graham Gooch’s men who were favorites to win the mega event. He was also the first Pakistani pacer to take 50 wickets in World Cups and with this record, he will prove to be an ace for his Skipper.
Wasim Akram 38 matches, 426 runs, Highest Score 43, Average 19.36, 0 50, 55 wickets, Best Bowling 5/28, Average 23.83
The Spin Magicians
Name two spinners who were Pakistan’s best in its two best World Cup campaigns – Mushtaq Ahmed in 1992, Saqlain Mushtaq in 1999. Throw them together in a match and hell will break loose for the opposition as one will trap them with a googly, the other will stun them with a doosra.
Mushtaq Ahmed 15 matches, 26 wickets, Best Bowling 3/16, Average 21.11
Saqlain Mushtaq 14 matches, 23 wickets, Best Bowling 5/35, Average 21.47
The Need For Speed
No team in the world can win the World Cup without bowlers who can bowl fast, very fast and more than very fast. Thankfully, Pakistan has been blessed with such pacers ever since the first World Cup where Sarfraz Nawaz stood out with his swing bowling; the World Cups between 1999 and 2011 belonged to a bloke named Shoaib Akhtar who clocked over 100 miles per hour in 2003, and ended with 30 wickets in World Cup competitions. And then you can have Wahab Riaz in the side as Wasim Akram’s understudy, especially after his majestic performance against England last week. His bowling performance in two unsuccessful matches – against India in 2011 and against Australia in 2015 – add weight to his selection over the rest of the lot.
Sarfraz Nawaz 11 matches, 16 wickets, Best Bowling 4/44, Average 27.18
Shoaib Akhtar 19 matches, 30 wickets, Best Bowling 4/46, Average 25.50
Wahab Riaz 14 matches, 27 wickets, Best Bowling 5/46, Average 24.00