In a blockbuster match on August 28, Pakistan will attempt to win their third Asia Cup title against arch-rival India. Two Asia Cup titles have been won by Pakistan. As a result of a 39-run victory over Sri Lanka in 2000. Their final victory over Bangladesh was a two-run win in 2012.
They were eliminated in the second round of the previous edition, however.
Babar Azam’s side, however, faces quite a different situation this time around. This appears to be a well-rounded team with a good mix of match-winners in the Pakistan squad for the multi-nation event. The UAE team has also won 17 out of 28 T20Is played there and has a wealth of experience there. There are also some weak links to the side, but first, let’s examine the composition of the team.
The squad’s makeup is as follows:
- Babar Azam (Captain)
- Mohammad Rizwan
- Fakhar Zaman
- Shadab Khan
- Haider Ali
- Khushdil Shah
- Asif Ali
- Iftikhar Ahmed
- Mohammad Nawaz
- Mohammad Wasim Jr
- Haris Rauf
- Naseem Shah
- Shahnawaz Dahani
- Usman Qadir
- Mohammad Hasnain
Salvo of Opening
The opening combination of Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan has proven to be extremely effective for Pakistan in the short format, and they were among the highest run-getters in the 2021 T20 World Cup.
Unlike Babar Azam, Rizwan scores quickly and effortlessly against some of the best bowlers in the world, while Babar Azam is a seamless scorer without taking too many risks.
T20I cricket is the pair’s most popular sport and the pair averages 55.26 runs per innings. Babar and Rizwan have had all five-century partnerships in 2021.
Ajax Football Club in the Netherlands recently hosted Pakistan all-rounder Shadab Khan for an awe-inspiring introduction of his captain Babar Azam. As a cricketer, Shadab compares Babar to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. As the leg-spinner put it, ‘he’s the Cristiano Messi of cricket’.
Iconic Dark Horse
The power-hitter of Pakistan’s cricket team, Asif Ali, is likely to be the dark horse on behalf of his team at this tournament. In order to prepare for the Asia Cup 2022, he has recently claimed to be hitting 100 to 150 sixes a day as part of his preparation.
Moreover, Ali further explained that even if he were to play the same shots twice in the same T20I match, he would never think of doing so. As a batsman, I am in a position where I am required to have an average of more than 10.
In order to hit big shots, you have to practice a lot. To be able to hit big shots, you must put in a lot of effort,” Asif told the PCB in an interview.
Cause of Worry
Despite having players like Haider Ali, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Iftikhar Ahmed, and Shadab Khan in the middle order, Pakistan’s middle order seems somewhat fragile.
In a tight situation, the over-reliance on Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, and Fakhar Zaman could leave the team shaky in the middle, since they lack the experience needed to handle tight situations. It would have been devastating to Pakistan if Shaheen Shah Afridi had sustained an injury before the tournament as well.
Last year, in his only T20I appearance against India in the T20 World Cup, Shahid Afridi was a major threat to the Indian top order, as he removed Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, and Virat Kohli from the side after removing them for 118 runs.
Naseem Shah, Shahnawaz Dahani, and Mohammad Hasnain lead the pace attack, so the lack of experience could also be evident in their bowling lineup.