The prestigious Asia Cup is upon us and the 14th edition of the sporting event is scheduled to be played in UAE from September 15 to September 28. Pakistan has announced a 16-member squad for the upcoming tournament. They will begin their campaign on September 16 against Hong Kong, which beat UAE in the qualifiers to get into the tournament.
Pakistan features in Group A with their arch-rivals India. The two sides will play each other on September 19, which will surely be a cracker of a game.
In the announced squad for Asia Cup, the most noticeable exclusion was that of 37-year-old batsman Mohammad Hafeez and all-rounder Imad Wasim. Both the players were excluded from the squad despite being a part of the 18-man training camp which held in Lahore.
Pakistan will be led by experienced Sarfraz Ahmed, who had earlier guided them to the ICC Champions Trophy honours.
Here’s the complete squad - Fakhar Zaman, Imam Ul Haq, Shan Masood, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (c), Asif Ali, Haris Sohail, Shadab Khan, Muhammad Nawaz, Fahim Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan, Usman Shinwari, Shaheen Afridi
Pakistan’s strength lies in its brilliant bowling attack. The squad consists of some really talented and dangerous bowlers who are capable of decimating the opposition from the get-go. The bowling attack features the likes of Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan and Hasan Ali. The pace trio will offer a lot of variations with deadly pace.
These fine pacers can be really lethal with the new ball as well as at the death overs. With them looking for wickets, it will not be good news for any opposition.
The bowling department also includes names like Faheem Ashraf, Usman Khan and Shaheen Afridi. All eyes will be on Afridi as he is all set to make his debut in ODI cricket. He has only played 3 T20Is for Pakistan.
In December 2017, he was named in Pakistan's squad for the 2018 U-19 World Cup. He was the leading wicket-taker for Pakistan in the tournament and took 12 wickets. Seeing his consistency in the tournament, ICC named Afridi the rising star of the squad.
The 17-year-old once grabbed the headlines while playing for Lahore Qalandars in the 2018 edition of Pakistan Super League. He produced one of the most lethal spells of fast bowling and took five wickets by giving away just 4 runs.
We think these are enough reasons to be very scared of this young, promising talent.
The UAE generally features spin-friendly pitches which will help the likes of Shoaib Malik & Shadab Khan. The spin duo can be dangerous with their variations and length.
Pakistan’s weakness can be seen in their batting. They will heavily rely on the opening duo of Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul Haq. Zaman turned up to be a match winner for Pakistan in the 5-match ODI series against Zimbabwe. While they have found a rising star in Imam.
Fakhar Zaman will be the key figure for Pakistan. Recently, he became the fastest batsmen ever to reach 1,000 run-mark in ODIs. He achieved that feat in just 18 innings. He is also the first Pakistani to score a double hundred in ODIs.
They do have experienced Shoaib Malik in the middle order, but the others have not been in great touch in recent times and it can collapse like pack of cards.
The Pakistan squad consists of players who want to show how strong they actually are. Some senior players have to be precise with their performances as they have struggled with their form and has a lot to prove. No shortage of talent, just a pool of hungry cricketers who are willing to give their best.
Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed has to lead the team well and guide them to a victory in the tournament.Pakistan last won the Asia Cup in 2012. In 2014, they ended up losing in the final against Sri Lanka.
This year we will see the 50-over format returning after the 2016 edition, which was a T20I Affair.