Azhar Ali touts Pakistan as World Cup 2019 title contender

Former captain believes that Men in Green have a good team combination

Azhar Ali touts Pakistan as World Cup 2019 title contender PHOTO COURTESY: Cricket Australia

Pakistan Test batsman Azhar Ali believes that Men in Green have a good chance of winning the upcoming International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup in England and Wales. 

While talking in an exclusive interview with Sky Sports, Ali said that Pakistan have a good team combination but peaking at the right time will be key to their campaign.

“I think Pakistan has a very good chance, providing the team clicks. The combination for Pakistan is very good, but it's all about clicking and peaking at the right time. The World Cup this time around is a long tournament, so you have a bit of time to find your feet and peak,” said Ali.

Talking about the main contenders for the World Cup, the right-handed batsman named India, Australia and South Africa, along with Pakistan, as his picks to lift the title.  

"I think India, Pakistan, Australia, and South Africa are the main challengers, although I don't think New Zealand should be written off, as they always tend to perform well at World Cups. I think the winner will come from one of these teams,” he said. “But then this is cricket, and anything is possible, and whoever runs into form and peaks at the right time will come out as champions."

The former Pakistan captain also stated that the national side has better chances of winning the mega event, as compared to the odds during their triumphant 2017 ICC Champions Trophy run.

"I actually believe that Pakistan has a better chance to win the World Cup this time around than we did two years ago at the Champions Trophy,” he said. “Back in 2017, nobody gave Pakistan a chance, but this time around people are mentioning Pakistan as potential winners of the World Cup.”

He added: "Pakistan is strong in all areas, but the key will be getting a solid base from the top-order batsmen and getting runs on the board for the bowlers to work with. Pakistan's bowlers are always strong, and this time is no different.” 

The 34-year-old, who announced retirement from limited-overs cricket in November last year, has no regrets about bringing the curtain down on his career in the shorter formats.

“I'm a firm believer that whatever happens, it happens for the best,” he said. “Of course, you want to play as much as you can for your country, but when guys like Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Abid Ali, and Shan Masood are performing and playing well, then they deserve to play in the World Cup ahead of me.”

He further stated: “When you are playing Test cricket, you don't want to focus on making a comeback in other formats, so I made a clear-minded decision to concentrate only on Test cricket in future, and I am comfortable with this decision.”