Naman Agarwal picks an all-time Pakistan XI based on performances in the Men’s ODI World Cup.

Pakistan are currently playing a five-match-ODI series against New Zealand at home, in preparation for the ODI World Cup later this year. The last time they reached the final of the tournament was in 1999. Given that this World Cup is scheduled in the subcontinent, they will fancy their chances to do better than what they have managed in the last few editions.

We’ve looked back at their performances in each of the ODI World Cups and compiled an all-time World Cup XI for Pakistan.

Stats in bold refer to World Cup numbers.

Wisden’s all-time Pakistan men’s Cricket World Cup XI – the selections

Saeed Anwar

915 runs @ 53.82, SR: 79.08, 3 100s, 3 50s, HS: 113*

Saeed Anwar is Pakistan’s second-highest run-scorer in men’s ODI World Cup history and the highest among openers. He played in three editions – 1996, 1999, and 2003 – and was the highest scorer for Pakistan in each of them. His most memorable World Cup knock was the hundred he scored against arch-rivals India in the 2003 edition, taking Pakistan to a commendable 273 in their 50 overs.

Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk)

303 runs @ 43.28, SR: 85.83, 1 100, 1 50, HS: 101*

Not a natural opener, Sarfaraz Ahmed took up the role when he was brought into the XI mid-way through the 2015 World Cup. He excelled at it, scoring 160 runs in three innings including a hundred and a fifty. He then led Pakistan in the 2019 World Cup and was back in the middle order. Among wicketkeepers, he is Pakistan’s highest run-scorer in men’s ODI World Cups, so he takes the gloves in this team.

Babar Azam

474 runs @ 67.71,  SR: 87.77, 1 10, 3 50s, HS: 101*

Babar Azam is the only player in this XI to have featured in just one edition of the ODI World Cup so far. But such was his consistency in the eight games that he played in 2019, that he makes it into the all-time XI nonetheless. With a 200-run cut-off, he already has the highest batting average in ODI World Cups for Pakistan and given the trajectory of his career, it may go even higher.

Javed Miandad

1083 runs @ 43.32, SR: 68.02, 1 100, 8 50s, HS: 103

Javed Miandad is the highest run scorer for Pakistan in men’s ODI World Cup history. Along with Sachin Tendulkar, he is the only player to have played in six different editions of the men’s ODI World Cup, starting from the inaugural competition in 1975 to the sixth edition in 1996. He was not known as a fast scorer, but his consistency in the middle order meant Pakistan could always bank on him. He played a pivotal role in their victorious campaign in 1992, scoring 437 runs at an average of 62.60, with five of his nine innings being 50-plus scores.

Zaheer Abbas

597 runs @ 49.75, SR: 74.56, 1 100s, 4 50s, HS: 103*

Zaheer Abbas just pips Misbah-ul-Haq to a spot in the XI. Their stats are eerily similar – Misbah made one more run, and both were dismissed 12 times. But Abbas, an early master of the format, had a slightly superior strike rate, despite playing several eras earlier. Each had standout innings, while also cashing in against weaker opponents – Abbas made two fifties against Sri Lanka, and Misbah a couple against Kenya and UAE. But while Misbah also reached fifty against both 2011 finalists, Abbas’ 93 against a West Indies attack of Holding, Roberts, Croft and Garner cannot be ignored, while his century against New Zealand in 1983 secured a semi-final’s spot, coming at a brisk rate to push Pakistan’s batting run rate – the tiebreaker at the competition – up just enough.

Imran Khan (c)

666 runs @ 35.05, SR: 65.68, 1 100, 4 50s, HS: 102*, 34 wickets @ 19.26, ER: 3.86, 2 four-fors, BBI: 4-37

Imran Khan has an enviable CV. He is Pakistan’s fifth-highest run-scorer and third-highest wicket-taker in men’s ODI World Cups, and he’s the only captain to lead Pakistan to a men’s ODI World Cup victory so far. Along with Shakib al Hasan, he is the only other player in history to have scored 500 runs and taken 30 wickets in men’s ODI World Cups. The list of achievements goes on and on. He was at his best with the bat in the 1983 edition where he scored 283 runs at 70.75, while his best performance with the ball came in 1987, where he took 17 wickets at 13.05. And his captaincy was to the fore in 1992.

Shahid Afridi

325 runs @ 14.13, SR: 112.45, HS: 37, 30 wickets @ 27.7, ER: 4.51, 4 four-fors, BBI: 5-16

Shahid Afridi played in five editions of the ODI World Cup, from 1999 to 2015. Although he rarely g0t going with the bat in any of those, as evidenced by his lack of a single 50-plus score in ODI World Cups, he was a banker with the ball with his quick wrist spin. He ended the 2011 World Cup as the joint-highest wicket-taker with 21 wickets in  eight games at an average of 12.85.

Wasim Akram

426 runs @ 19.36, SR: 101.18, HS: 43, 55 wickets @ 23.83, ER: 4.04, 3 four-fors, BBI: 5-28

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Sultan of Swing – Wasim Akram – is Pakistan’s highest wicket-taker in men’s ODI World Cups. Wasim played in five editions of the tournament, from 1987 to 2003. He was so good that the next-highest wicket-taker for Pakistan in World Cups has 20 fewer wickets than him. Pakistan’s two most successful campaigns – 1992 and 1999 – both saw Wasim put his hand up and deliver with 18 and 15 wickets respectively.

Wahab Riaz

35 wickets @ 26.45, ER: 5.55, 2 four-fors, BBI: 5-46

Wahab Riaz is the second-highest wicket-taker for Pakistan in ODI World Cups. He has had several memorable performances on the big stage, with his bouncer-barrage to Shane Watson in 2015 and five-wicket haul in the high-voltage semi-final against India in 2011 being written into Pakistan cricket folklore.

Shoaib Akhtar

30 wickets @ 27.7, ER: 4.51, 1 four-for, BBI: 4-46

Shoaib Akhtar played three editions of the ODI World Cup – 1999, 2003, and 2011. He was brilliant in the first two, taking 16 wickets at 24.43 and 11 wickets at 22.90 respectively. While he blew a little hot and cold against the top teams, as can be expected from someone with his pace, he absolutely terrorized the weaker teams, with three of his four three-wicket hauls coming against Namibia, Scotland, and the Netherlands respectively.

Saqlain Mushtaq

23 wickets @ 21.47, ER: 4.39, 1 four-for, BBI: 5-35

Saqlain Mushtaq is the highest-wicket taker among finger-spinners for Pakistan in ODI World Cups. His mastery of the doosra made him an instant success at the international level. He played three editions of the World Cup – 1996, 1999, and 2003, but only had a major impact in 1999 when Pakistan reached the finals. In 10 games, he took 17 wickets at an average of 22.29 and was Pakistan’s highest wicket-taker in the tournament. He completes the bowling line-up, complementing Shahid Afridi as the second spinner in the XI.