As the Champions Trophy hangover continues

K Shahid has his eyes on the 2019 World Cup

As the Champions Trophy hangover continues
As the national celebrations of the Champions Trophy win continued well into the Eid holidays, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif hosted an event for the national side to award them for their world-beating performance. We can’t emphasise enough what this would mean for a young team, whose first taste of global glory would push them towards wanting to achieve more of the same, considering the hero-worship they are deservedly garnering.

The obvious next stop to achieve this would be the ODI World Cup in 2019, which would be followed by the World T20 in 2020. The 2019 World Cup, which will also be played in England, is what all sides would be eying over the next two years, and team combinations would be tried out keeping the big one in mind.

The champions of the Champions Trophy obviously already have a winning combination for English conditions. What Pakistan now would need to prove is that they weren’t one-tournament wonders and would have to maintain their aura of world beaters by getting positive results throughout the next 24 months.

It would be a major surprise if the 2019 World Cup squad doesn’t feature 80 percent of the current lot. The only way that would happen is if the side loses its track in the next two years, hence necessitating changes.
The likes of Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Hasan Ali and Shadab Khan should form the spine of the team for years to come. Mohammed Amir and Junaid Khan have proved that they remain the top two Pakistani fast bowlers in the pecking order, regardless of the format, conditions or tournament. Sarfraz Ahmed, now confirmed as the Test skipper as well, is now the undisputed captain of Pakistan cricket, and should be leading the side in the 2019 World Cup as well.

For the likes of Azhar Ali, Shoaib Malik, Mohammed Hafeez and Imad Wasim – who all contributed to Pakistan’s Champions Trophy win in their own capacities – the next couple of series would be crucial to further reestablish themselves in the starting 11.

Hafeez and Malik are approaching the end of their careers and might be looking at 2019 and 2020 as possible retirement dates. Azhar and Imad are now among the relative seniors in the ODI side and if they continue to perform well, it would help Pakistan sustain a winning combination.

Yes, by already talking about 2019 we’re getting ahead of ourselves. But that’s the very least side-effect of the Champions Trophy hangover.