Pakistan are one of the world’s best Test cricket teams, with a World Cup under their belt, as well as a number of successes in Test matches and Test series. As of late 2015, their record in One-Day Internationals shows a near 55% win-rate, with close to 100 more wins than losses in their 850+ matches. They have been ranked in the top 3 on many occasions and their best ranking for Test matches, ODI and for T20, is 1st.
Their fiercest rivals are India, but they also share a strong rivalry with many other neighboring countries. Pakistan even have a rivalry with England, which comes courtesy of the history that the two countries share, and the previous games and wars of words that have served to aggravate fans and players alike.
Cricket had existed in Pakistan for many years prior to the creation of their national team, which came a few years after they were given their independence. The majority of inaugural Test matches have been played against England, but Pakistan played theirs against India. The match was played in Delhi and India were the victors, but not by a long way. Just two years later Pakistan toured England and came away with a 1-1 draw, a result which surprised many and one that had a vital role in Pakistan’s early development.
Pakistan haven’t always had the level of success that has been expected of them throughout their long history. In the inaugural World Cup, they didn’t make it past the first round, although they made up for this in the following tournament. From 1979 to 1987 and the three World Cups played in between, Pakistan made it to the semi-final on all occasions. In 1992 they went one better, winning a World Cup that Australia had joint-staged with New Zealand. In the knock-out round of this event, after progressing relatively easily to that point, they were given a tough game against New Zealand, before progressing to the final and beating England with relative ease.
This was possibly the highlight of Pakistan’s history in the game, and their performance would not be repeated. The following year, during a World Cup that they hosted, along with Sri Lanka and India, they didn’t progress further than the quarter-final, and in 1999 they made it to the final again, only to be beaten by Australia.
Pakistan enjoyed a little more success in the Twenty20 World Cup, losing in the 2007 final, before winning the 2009 event and then progressing to the semi-final of both the 2010 and 2012 event. Pakistan have yet to win the ICC Champions Trophy, but they have enjoyed multiple victories at the Asia Cup, where the competition isn’t as fierce for them. They won this event in 2000 and 2012, and they finished 3rd or better on all 9 of the other tournaments they participated in. Pakistan also won all three Austral-Asia Cups and 1 Asian Test Championship, before both tournaments were retired.
In their early days, as has been the case ever since, Pakistan have always produced the best fast bowlers, and one of the first to make his name on the international scene was Fazal Mahmood. Born in 1927, Mahmood was instrumental in Pakistan’s moderate successes throughout the 1950s and the 1960s. Not only did he help to lead Pakistan to some big victories early in their Test career, but he also influenced many of the superstars that followed and helped to shape the Pakistan team for many years to come.
Hannah Mohammad also helped to take Pakistan to another level with some record breaking batting. He excelled from his very first game, scoring more than 150 runs and then more than 200 runs in a single series against New Zealand. By the time he had finished his career, bowing out against Zimbabwe in 1993, he had become Pakistan’s most successful batter, with a record of 8832 runs.
In the modern game there are just as many superstars, including Younis Khan, who became one of the highest run scorers in Pakistan’s history over an extensive career, delivering them some of their biggest victories.
A player often voted as the best to ever play for Pakistan, and one that few people will argue with if you included him on a Best Eleven, is Imran Khan. Playing during the 1980s and 1990s, Khan is one of the greatest all-rounders to ever play the game. During the 80s he took Pakistan very close to beating a West Indies side that were unbeaten in Test matches throughout the decade, and he also shone on the world stage. As well as taking 362 wickets in his career, and scoring close to 4,000 runs, Khan would go on to mentor the generation of greats that took his place, making him instrumental for the modern game in Pakistan.