Was Pakistan unlucky in missing out on a semis spot in World Cup 2019?

Pakistan’s World Cup 2019 campaign ended with plenty of hype around the social media world everywhere. In their last league game, they faced a near impossible equation against Bangladesh to qualify for the semi-final stage. This led to a lot of memes and jokes being circulated all over social media before the game. And while Pakistan won the match comfortably, they ended with a net run rate of -0.430, well short of New Zealand’s +0.175 who eventually made it through to the last four.

Pakistan thus finished their ICC World Cup 2019 tourney in the fifth spot and would need to evaluate where they went wrong. Many are of the opinion that Pakistan were unlucky at having missed out on the semi-final spot and New Zealand were fortunate to have secured that position even after facing three back-to-back defeats.

Pakistan, after a stuttering start, won their last four games, including one against New Zealand. They even defeated tournament favorites England at the start of the competition. But that was still not enough. Hence there is a general opinion in Pakistan that they were unlucky to have missed out and merited a place in the final four.

Sarfaraz Ahmed, Pakistan’s captain, certainly believes so. Sarfaraz, who was addressing the local media after reaching home, said that Pakistan’s performance was laudable and he was proud of how the team bounced back. He also added that luck wasn’t with them in taking the team to the semi-final stage.

“All of us, like the whole nation, wanted to win the World Cup for the country but the luck was not with us,” said Sarfaraz at the press conference. “Of course it hurts deeply that we weren’t in the semi-finals but we couldn’t make it just because of [inferior] net run-rate,” he added.

So was Pakistan really unfortunate in missing out on a semi-final spot in the World Cup?

The truth is that Pakistan’s performance was inconsistent and uneven throughout the tournament. In their very first game against the West Indies, they were shot out for merely 105 and lost the game by 7 wickets. They made a comeback by defeating England in the next match by 14 runs but went on lose their next two games – to Australia by 41 runs and to India by 89 runs (D/L method). That put a massive dent in their net run rate and for that Pakistan have only themselves to blame.

And while Pakistan did win their last four matches, their performance against Afghanistan was poor and they would have actually lost the game had luck not been on their side.

New Zealand, despite losing three back-to-back games, had been very professional at the start of the tournament and earned their points with a healthy run-rate that helped them eventually to qualify. They hence rightfully deserved their semi-final spot and it is Pakistan that needs to reevaluate their campaign properly.

Their batting, fielding and bowling led them down on different occasions throughout the tournament. While the performances of Babar Azam, Shaeen Shah Afridi and Mohammad Amir were their shining light, it was an otherwise average show in the World Cup by the team overall. Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed needs to bring in some changes, take some hard decisions and plan for the future properly rather than blaming luck. Otherwise, Pakistan will always continue to flatter to deceive in big events.

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