Unpredictable Pakistan gear up for World Cup

With the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup just around the corner, most of the teams which will be participating are currently honing their skills against the competition. As a result, Pakistan are currently over in New Zealand on a tour with the last fixture set for February 5th. Already they have lost two from their three T20 fixtures, and are currently battling out a two Test series before the real indicator of their expected effectiveness at the World Cup when they begin a six match ODI mini-series on January 22nd.

But Pakistan have not won an ODI series for more than two years, when they beat the West Indies 3-0 in 2008, and as a result most pundits aren’t taking their chances of lifting the World Cup too seriously. But it would not be the first time that they have shocked the cricketing world by shaking free from their perceived underdog status to defy the odds and claim a major international crown. Back in 1992, bolstered by the incredible form of captain and national icon Imran Khan, they defied the odds and claimed the trophy, and more recently in 2009 they recovered from a poor start to triumph in the T20 World Cup. That said, they are not many people's 2011 Cricket World Cup tips.

In the 50-over version of the game, they seem to have suffered a bout of stage-fright at the highest level in recent years, failing to get past the first round of matches in their previous two attempts. The problem with Pakistani cricket - apart from the obvious recent spot-fixing scandals of course - is that with the nation putting so much emphasis on their team's results it's almost impossible to live up to their enormous expectations.

This enormous pressure not to lose makes them appear to constantly be playing in a state of disharmony, with results being dependent on a number of star performers, rather than an all round strong team effort and even the Cricket World Cup betting suggests that people think things will be the same this time around.

As a result, they can be somewhat unpredictable and although they can beat anyone in the world on their day, they have also been known to struggle against minnows of the game such as Ireland - the side which eventually confirmed their elimination from the 2007 World Cup.