England up next? No problem
Between January 30 and June 3, Pakistan lost 11 ODIs out of 12. The one they didn't lose was washed out.
That they lost 4-0 to England in England, strange as this sounds, isn't scandalous. With the possible exception of India, you'd think that could happen to anyone. Besides, a couple of those were pretty close and that could easily have been 2-2 or at least 3-1.
Before that there was a 5-0 Series loss to Australia, in their own backyard of sorts, over in the UAE. Only one match was even close. But Pakistan were missing their suspended skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed and other important players were absent, too. For Australia, players such as Peter Handscomb and Shaun Marsh, fearing the returns of David Warner and Steve Smith, batted out of their skins.
So they lost to the best team in the world away from home and got hammered by an inspired Australia. It happens.
Most alarming of all though was their meek capitulation against the West Indies in their first World Cup match. On the back of all that, and this being Pakistan, it was somewhat inevitable that in their next match they'd beat the side that had thrashed them 4-0 just weeks before and were the tournament favourites.
Recalled left arm duo could be a masterstroke
In truth, there was nothing particularly remarkable about their win against England. In each of those four ODIs before the World Cup they scored at least 297, so going big with the bat is nothing new for them.
There's this idea that 'England can chase anything' and that 'no score is enough against that batting line-up'. True to an extent because to get to Number 1 in the world you would have had to chase some mammoth scores. But an ODI can easily come down to whether one catch is taken or dropped, one piece of outstanding fielding, one individual exceptional performance with bat or ball. This time it didn't go England's way.
Human error is part of cricket. The game isn't an exact science.
Monday's match ultimately came down to the fact that Jason Roy dropped Mohammad Hafeez early on (he went on to make 84 of 62) and when centurions Joe Root and Jos Buttler cut to gully, the catches were held. On such fine margins are games won and lost.
Chief Pakistan selector Inzamam Ul-Haq was best known for two things as a batsman. His brilliant strokeplay and his chaotic running between the wickets. In picking Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz (pictured), two left-arm pace bowlers who didn't even play in that ODI series against England, weren't in the original World Cup squad and had been dismal in ODIs for the bets part of four years, this was seemingly Inzamam in kamikaze mode.
Or was it? Between them they took five wickets against the hosts. Don't pay too much attention to their economy rates as this was a very high-scoring match.
If you keep on taking wickets, you'll keep on winning matches.
History on their side
Losing their first match at a tournament, like they did here against the Windies, makes Pakistan extremely dangerous. At the 1992 World Cup they lost their opening match by 10 wickets to the Windies.
At the 2009 T20 World Cup they went down to England first up. In the 2017 Champions Trophy they were hammered by India in their first Group match.
On all three occasions they went on to win the tournament. The last two, by the way, were staged in England.
Can Pakistan win the World Cup? Yes, of course they can. They've perhaps been a bit guilty of dining out on that Champions Trophy success for a while now but it was on these shores just two years ago and most of the team is the same.
It's a good side. They tick all the main boxes: prolific opening pair, classy number three, some big-hitters in the middle order, wicket-taking fast bowlers, canny spinner. As Ed Hawkins pointed out, it's been a feature of World Cup wining teams to have one left-arm pace bowler. They have two.
Of course, as ever, the key question isn't so much: can they win it? It's: what price are they to win it? At odds of 21.020/1 they certainly make far more appeal than the likes of England (3.259/4), Australia (5.24/1) or even the Windies (8.07/1). It's hard to understand why Jason Holder's side, every bit as mercurial as Pakistan themselves, are less than half their price at the time of writing.
You'll see far worse prices than the one about Pakistan this World Cup. Just don't expect any sort of predictable set of results if you do back them. They could easily lose to Sri Lanka tomorrow as 4/11 favourites. They could quite conceivably beat Australia and India as underdogs in the two games after that.
This is after all, Pakistan. Their resurgence certainly makes it a far more interesting World Cup.