Pakistan’s all time ODI XI
Pakistan started playing one day international cricket in the 1970s. And since then they have found some greats of the limited overs formats. Let’s have a look at them.
1. Saeed Anwar: Saeed Anwar, the great left handed opener from Pakistan is perhaps Pakistan’s greatest one day international batsman to date. His elegance and the left hander’s grace made him a watchable commodity. His flawless timing and ability to find gaps was second to none. The other quality he had was of scoring runs at a brisk rate. He would take the game away from the opposition in a matter of few overs. He had every shot in the book. From the cover drive to the square drive. From the wristy flick through mid wicket to the fine leg glance. From the pull shot to the vicious square cut. He had it all. He played pace bowling as well as he played spin bowling. He would look to dominate bowlers and not let them settle. Saeed was one of the best openers of his time and was a true match winner. You can find Pakistan’s all time Test XI
Saeed Anwar averaged 39 in one day international cricket with 20 centuries to his name. He had a superb record against India, with most of his 20 ODI centuries coming against India. He will perhaps go down as the greatest opener ever produced by Pakistan.
2. Zaheer Abbas: The elegant right hander who played for Pakistan in the 1980s. He was also called the “Asian Bradman”. The current generation could not see him bat but highlights of his batting class are available. He drove the ball effortlessly and played with a soothing touch. He never tried to hit the ball hard. It was all about playing the ball late and finding the gaps. Besides, Zaheer Abbas played at a time when batting was not an easy job. Batsmen had to play without helmets and face express pace from teams like Australia and the West Indies. Zaheer Abbas played the modern ODI game 40 years back. He averaged 47 at a strike rate of 85 in one day international cricket. And as a result is one of the greats of the ODI game for Pakistan.
3. Babar Azam: People might see Babar Azam’s name in the list as a surprise. But this man is perhaps going to be Pakistan’s greatest ever limited overs player if not their greatest in test cricket. Babar Azam ticks all boxes a cricketer should tick. Exceptionally talented, hardworking and fit. He is currently ranked number 3 in the international cricket council ODI rankings for batsmen. He is only behind Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. But he is extremely young. He will be 25 next month and what he has achieved already in his limited overs international career is astounding. The ICC World Cup of 2019 has transformed him perhaps into a modern day legend.
He scored 478 runs in the World Cup including a match winning hundred against New Zealand in a tough run chase on a tricky surface. No Pakistan batsman has scored more runs than Babar Azam in a single World Cup. He has ticked all boxes. He has got runs in the subcontinent and backed those up with heavy scores in England, Australia and South Africa. He is averaging 53 in one day international cricket at a strike rate of 85. He is also less than a 100 runs away from getting 1000 ODI runs this year. He has all the talent and attitude to become the greatest ever Pakistan batsman across formats.
4. Javed Miandad: Javed Miandad was a street fighter. He was a man for crisis. He got Pakistan out of trouble on countless occasions. Miandad played a number of match winning innings for Pakistan in one day international cricket. His famous last ball six against Chetan Sharma to win the Sharjah Cup of 1986 is still fresh in the minds of Pakistan’s cricket fans. He was the first ever batsman to 1000 World Cup runs. And he played a major role in Pakistan’s World Cup triumph in 1992. He wasn’t attractive like Zaheer Abbas but he was very dogged and resilient. His game awareness and tactical abilities were perhaps second to none in Pakistan’s cricket history. He averaged 41 for Pakistan in one day international cricket and is Pakistan’s most successful batsman in World Cup cricket.
5. Inzimam-Ul-Haq: Inzimam was one of the greatest finishers of the one day game. His ability to handle pressure in crunch situations was unparalleled. He could play any sort of game. He had the ability to be dogged in defense and also had the ability to launch an assault when needed. Inzi was a true match winner and opposition captains wouldn’t be guaranteed of a win before getting rid of him. He played pace beautifully and was equally good against spin. No required run rate was impossible while Inzi was on the crease and he proved that on a number of occasions. His innings in the semi final of the 1992 World Cup against New Zealand in Auckland was an example of this. Pakistan required about 7 runs per over to win when Inzi came into bat.
Inzi smashed the Kiwis all around Eden Park, scoring 62 off just 37 balls to hand Pakistan victory. He would more often be the last man standing in an ODI run chase for Pakistan.
6. Imran Khan(c): Imran Khan is the captain of my all time Pakistan ODI XI. And this shouldn’t be a surprise. He is Pakistan’s most successful ever captain. In fact, he was a leader. He gave Pakistan the killer instinct and developed so many players for Pakistan that went on to become greats.Wasim Akram, Inzimam, Waqar Younus, Abdul Qadir, Saeed Anwar, all blossomed under his leadership. Besides, Imran was a great player as well. One of the all time great all rounders in the game and the greatest Pakistan all rounder to date. He was an excellent pace bowler with wicket taking instinct and abilities. He was also a very useful batsman down the order. He was strong in defense and could smash the ball a long way when needed.
Imran’s batting talent came to the fore in the crunch matches of the 1992 World Cup. He batted at number 3 in the semi final and final. In both games he scored crucial runs. He was the highest run scorer in the final for Pakistan and weathered the early storm along with Javed Miandad to lift Pakistan out of early trouble. He will surely be the greatest captain and all rounder in Pakistan’s cricket history.
7. Moin Khan: The shrewd wicket keeper batsman was part of Pakistan’s 1992 champion side. He was a useful lower order batsman and safe behind the stumps. He also lead Pakistan for a couple of years and was a very good captain.
8. Shahid Afridi: Boom Boom Afridi, as we famously know him, is one of the greatest all rounders the world of cricket has seen in limited overs cricket. More known for his swashbuckling batting style, people forget his class with the ball. With 397 wickets in one day international cricket, he is only behind Wasim Akram and Waqar Younus as Pakistan’s highest wicket taker in one day international cricket. And no one can doubt the power that he possessed lower down the order. He on numerous occasions won Pakistan games single handedly with his powerful striking. He played the modern limited overs game when no one had any concept of it. Afridi won Pakistan the World T20 in England in 2009 with his superb batting and bowling.
Afridi’s leg spin was a sight to watch. The skill he had with the ball was not appreciated enough. He could play alone as a specialist bowler in the ODI side. He picked 21 wickets in the ICC World Cup of 2011. And broke Imran Khan’s record of the highest number of wickets taken by a captain in a single World Cup edition. He is truly one of the greats of the limited overs game.
9. Wasim Akram: This man needs no introduction. The greatest bowler Pakistan has ever produced and will remain the best for a long long time. He is undoubtedly the greatest left arm fast bowler in the history of the game. The two deliveries that he bowled to Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis in the final of the 1992 World Cup have not been replicated yet. He was one of the main reasons Pakistan won the 92 World Cup. His ability to seam and swing the new ball and then reverse the old ball with immaculate control was something unparalleled. Wasim was also a very useful lower order bat. He could hit the ball hard. And his quick fire 30 odd in the final of the 92 World Cup helped Pakistan reach a competitive total of 249.He was also a great captain. He had a very good cricketing brain.
Pakistan got to the final of the 1999 World Cup in his captaincy. It was a shame that they couldn’t win that World Cup.
10. Saqlain Mushtaq: Saqlain Mushtaq is the greatest off spinner Pakistan cricket has produced. He was the inventor of the doosra. Many bowlers including Mutthia Muralidharan learned the doosra from him. But there was one striking difference. Saqlain did not have to bend his bowling arm beyond 15 degrees to bowl the doosra. Whereas all other bowlers who bowled the doosra bent their arms beyond the permitted 15 degrees. That is why off spinners with doosras started getting banned from bowling in 2014. Saqlain was a true match winner and a game changer. His spell in the famous Chennai test in 1999 cannot be forgotten. India were cruising to victory with Sachin Tendulkar playing a great innings. But then Saqlain bamboozled him with his doosra and cleaned the tail up to hand Pakistan a famous victory. He also got a hat trick in 1999 World Cup against Zimbabwe. Saqlain is very underrated and could have played for Pakistan for a long time had he not confronted a knee injury.
11. Waqar Younus: The king of reverse swing and the fastest bowler of his time. Waqar Younus would thrive with the old ball and change complexions of ODI games with his big reverse swinging yorkers. With Wasim Akram, Waqar Younus formed a deadly pair that would hunt opposition batsmen and leave the opposite side in tatters. He lead Pakistan in the disastrous World Cup of 2003 and that ended a career that could’ve lasted longer.