Former English captain Nasser Hussain believes the boys in Green are not to be written off in the mega tournament.
“Many Pakistani fans will say they have followed their team for too long and had their hearts broken many times, but I love them, and I love their cricket,” he told in an interview.
“I love them because they are mercurial Pakistan and you wonder which Pakistan will turn up on the day. The fact is that you cannot write off Pakistan for this World Cup,” he said.
Hussain also praised some of the youngsters in the side as a catalyst for a strong tournament.
“Pakistan always produces these players,” Hussain said. “And the moment they play it’s like, ‘Wow these lads have got something about them.’ This is what Pakistan do, they play them, they pick them, and they give them a chance. It doesn’t matter how old they are, it’s all about whether they are good enough.
“If you can clock 90mph as Hasnain and Shaheen can, then that is the sort of wicket-taking potential that will win this World Cup,” he said. “I think it will be a high-scoring World Cup, if Sarfraz can throw the ball to his young guns and say, ‘Give me three overs and we need to get Jos Buttler out’. Or ‘Get (Virat) Kohli for me’, ‘We need to get MS Dhoni’ or ‘Dismiss Steve Smith or Kane Williamson, it doesn’t matter how many runs you go for, just get me a wicket,’ that will be the difference between winning and losing a World Cup game.”
Hussain also praised the Sarfraz-Arthur collaboration at the helm of the Pakistan side, heralding their passion, “I really like Sarfraz and I like the Sarfraz and Arthur combination.”
“I don’t see Sarfraz as a bottler, I see him as a real fighter and the Pakistan fans that I know and have known over the years they want their team to fight, and with Sarfraz and Arthur you get that fighting spirit in abundance.”
The former batsman backed the selectors’ decision to only pick Mohammad Amir in the squad for the imminent England ODIs, giving him a chance to prove his worth in the team before the tournament.
“Obviously there has been a lot of disappointment from Pakistan fans regarding Mohammad Amir and I am sure that for such a high-quality bowler, Amir himself is disappointed in these statistics and his output,” he said.
“It seems that the white ball isn’t swinging as much for him these days. When I recall Mohammad Amir at his best, he was bowling those big booming in-swingers and then the one going across the batsman became a threat.
“I think they have done the right thing with Amir: ‘Go to England, play in the five-match series against England, the door is not closed on you and we will pick from that 17-man squad and let’s see if you can get back to your best.”
“But having said all of this, I see him as a big-match player and one only has to think back to how he bowled in the Champions Trophy final and the players he got out. There is no doubt that he gets great players out when he is on-song.”
Pakistan will take on England on 5 May in a solitary T20 international, before the five-match ODI series begins on 8 May.