Pakistan is gearing up for the Asia Cup clash against their traditional rivals, India, scheduled for Saturday in Kandy.
The Men in Green registered a 238-run victory over Nepal in Asia Cup opener on Wednesday and are unlikely to make any changes to their winning combination, unless there are last-minute adjustments needed due to weather/ground conditions or a possibility of a rain-curtailed game.
Despite Fakhar Zaman’s recent struggles with form, Pakistan is likely to stick with their regular opening batsmen. Babar Azam will be determined to carry forward his excellent form, as evidenced by his impressive score of 151 against Nepal. Mohammad Rizwan, the wicketkeeper-batsman, will take the number four spot in the batting order.
There’s a possibility that Pakistan might consider replacing Agha Salman with Saud Shakeel, given Salman’s batting performance in the previous match. The inclusion of a left-handed batsman like Shakeel in the middle-order could help counter the threat posed by India’s left-arm spinners, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav. However, Babar Azam has a history of maintaining faith in his players despite occasional setbacks, so Agha Salman is likely to retain his place.
After his maiden ODI century against Nepal, Iftikhar Ahmed will be looking to continue contributing significantly to Pakistan’s strong finishes in ODIs.
Shadab Khan, who achieved his best ODI bowling figures in the match against Nepal, is looking to build upon that success. Given the anticipated overcast weather with the possibility of rain, Pakistan might contemplate the addition of an extra fast bowler, with Faheem Ashraf potentially replacing Mohammad Nawaz.
The final three slots in the lineup will feature the dynamic fast-bowling trio of Haris Rauf, Shaheen Shah Afridi, and Naseem Shah, known for their fiery pace and ability to unsettle batters. Despite an injury scare in the Nepal game, Shaheen is fit to take the field against India on Saturday.
Pakistan’s expected playing XI:
Fakhar Zaman, Imam ul Haq, Babar Azam (C), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Agha Salman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf/Mohammad Nawaz, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf
Pakistan squad for Asia Cup:
Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam (captain), Salman Ali Agha, Iftikhar Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Haris, Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Mohammad Nawaz, Usama Mir, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Afridi