Champions Trophy team profile: Pakistan

A favourite generalisation about Pakistan is that when they're good, they're superb, but when they're bad, they're abysmal.

<b>Overview</b><br>A favourite generalisation about Pakistan is that when they're good, they're superb, but when they're bad, they're abysmal. They are one of the least predictable sides in world cricket, and which side will turn up on the day is anyone's guess.

Pakistan have not won this event before, and this will be their last chance to do so as it is the final installment. They did reach the semi-finals twice in the last three editions though, and have a good track record in ICC tournaments.

Their group consists of South Africa, India and the West Indies, so getting into the knock-out stages will be tricky given their mixed form this year. They have played ODI series against both India and the Proteas this year, drawing with the former and losing to the latter.

They go into the tournament on the back of a four-game tour against Scotland and Ireland, where they were not very convincing. In fact, they nearly lost the two-game series against Ireland after drawing the first game and winning the second by only two wickets.

<b>Strengths</b><br>Opposition players tend to underestimate Pakistan, given their middling ranking and erratic performances, and that often works in their favour, especially when one or two players come good in a game.

They also have a spin pairing, of Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez, that has done very well over the past few seasons. Ajmal is the number one ODI bowler, and can spin the ball on a tarpaulin if asked. The batsmen, even those used to spin, will have a tough time against them.

Pakistan's pace attack is also steadily improving, with Junaid Khan a shining light, and Mohammad Irfan proving to be more than the novelty factor. He did very well in South Africa, and given the right conditions will do well in England.

<b>Weaknesses</b><br>The top order is not a consistent one, and from one game to the next it can be tough to call who will play. Pakistan often rely on their middle, and sometimes lower, order to get them out of trouble.

As for the wicketkeeping, Kamran Akmal may come good with the bat every so often but he is infamous for his blunders with the gloves. His drops and fumbles are the cause of a few groans in every game, and his skipper will need him to minimise those.

The catch 22 mentioned above, their unpredictability, is a weakness as well. Once something goes wrong early on, their heads drop and matters go from bad to worse, unless one player rescues them. Mental conditioning is not their strong suit.

<b>One To Watch</b><br>The obvious, and correct, player to keep an eye on is <b>Saeed Ajmal</b>. He is prolific in ODIs and has an average of 22.91. If the batsmen don't post high enough totals, all eyes will be on him to defend the score.

<b>Probable Bench-Warmer</b><br>There are five pace bowlers in the squad, and aside from Junaid Khan, they aren't really assured of a place. It will depend on the match conditions and the opposition, but one imagines Irfan, <b>Ehsan Adil</b> and Wahab Riaz will be fighting to play.

<b>Last Three Tournament Finishes</b><br>2009: Losing semi-finalists to New Zealand<br>2006: Knocked out in group stage<br>2004: Losing semi-finalists to West Indies

<b>Cricket365 Prediction</b><br>How on earth does one predict Pakistan? We're going to say they won't make it out of their group this time, given they have the Proteas, India and the West Indies to content with. Or they'll win the whole thing, you never know.

<b>Squad</b><br>Misbah-ul-Haq, Abdur Rehman, Asad Ali, Asad Shafiq, Ehsan Adil, Imran Farhat, Junaid Khan, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Irfan, Nasir Jamshed, Saeed Ajmal, Shoaib Malik, Umar Amin, Wahab Riaz

<b>Fixtures</b><br>7 June: v West Indies, Oval<br>10 June: v South Africa, Birmingham<br>15 June: v India, Birmingham