One thing that always added spice to an otherwise monotonous calendar year filled with meaningless bilaterals used to be multinational tournaments, which included the Titan cup, Coca-Cola cup, Natwest series, and Pepsi Cup etc. Now that multinational tournaments have vanished completely, we see our favorite teams compete against each other only at the ICC or Asia Cup tournaments. ICC has announced the future tour programmes ( FTP ) for the 2023-27 cycle, but there are hardly any tours planned except for a few tri series. In the midst of this, the Asia Cup is a breath of fresh air that has provided a sense of excitement among viewers
The 15th edition of Asia cup commenced on 27th Aug with Afghanistan beating SL by 8 wickets. It was followed by a nail biter on where India emerged victorious in a last over thriller against Pakistan. The knockout match between SL and Ban was one of the most exciting games that didn't include Ind because of the new born rivalry and a war of words that were exchanged before the game. India have been almost eliminated after losing Back to back last over thrillers. No one gave SL a chance, No one anticipated Babar's poor run, none would have felt the need to support Afghanistan. Yesterday's result has turned the entire table and once again reminded us to never write off anyone in sport.
Pakistan will be riding high on momentum after beating arch rivals India in a yet another thriller. The main hero of the match was Mohammad Nawaz. First with the ball where he bowled a economical spell of just 6.1 rpo and then came out all guns blazing after getting a promotion at no 4. The Good news for Pakistan is Mohammad Rizwan is declared fit for today's game. As far as btting is concerned, this is the 1st time Babar has failed to reach 20 in 3 consecutive innings and his SR in PP is 116. There may not be any respite for him against Rashid and Mujeeb.
Afghanistan started their campaign with 2 back to back one sided wins and were looking invincible against SL but bowling let them down. Especialliy their most experienced bowler Rashid had no clue against Gunthilaka. Afghanistan almost gave a scare to Pak in the wc game but a penultimate over masterclass by Asif Ali against Karim Janat sealed the game in their favour. If Pak manage to win today then it will put all permutaions and combinations to rest and they will face SL in the final on Sunday.
Babar Azam (C), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Shadab Khan, Asif Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Hasnain, Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah
Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmanullah Gurbaz(w), Ibrahim Zadran, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi(c), Karim Janat, Rashid Khan, Samiullah Shinwari, Naveen-ul-Haq, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Fazalhaq Farooqi
Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah
Total matches 28
Matches won batting first 17
Matches won bowling first 11
Average 1st Inns scores 151
Average 2nd Inns scores 124
Highest total recorded 215/6 (20 Ov) by AFG vs ZIM
Lowest total recorded 44/10 (10 Ov) by NED vs SL
Highest score chased 172/5 (18.5 Ov) by SL vs BAN
Lowest score defended 142/7 (20 Ov) by WI vs BAN
PAK: Played - 5, Won - 4, Lost - 0, Tie - 1
AFG: Played - 15, Won - 11, Lost - 4
Team Form guide
Pakistan: W W L L W
Afganistan: L W W L W
Head to Head
This is only the 3rd time these 2 teams will be meeting in t20is. The Other 2 times were T20 WC 2021 and one off t20i in 2013. On both occasions Pak emerged victorious by 5 and 6 wkts respectively.
Babar v Rashid: 59/5 at 123 sr
Asif v Rashid: 32/0 at 114 sr
Rizwan v Rashid: 15/1 at 83 sr
Babar v Shinwari: 19/0 at 158 sr
Fakhar v Nabi: 40/1 at 129 sr
Asif v Janat: 24/0 at 400 sr
Naseem v Zazai: 0/1
Naseem v Gurbaz: 9/1
Naseem v Nabi: 0/1
N Zadran v Shadab: 45/1 at 160 sr
Nabi v Rauf: 37/2 at 160 sr
(Last 5 innings)
Key Players & Fantasy Picks
Captain / Vice Captain
He scored over 1300 runs in 2021 at an avg of 73 and strike rate of 135. Thats a record for most runs in a calendar year in t20is. Overall, he scored more than 2000 runs in t20s last year and so far is the highest scorer of the tournamnet with 2 back to back match winning knocks. He has scored 359 runs in 12 innings at Sharjah at an average of 51 and SR of 125.
In addition to being a hard hitting batsman, Gurbaz is also a talented wicketkeeper. He is prolific in the T20 format having scored over 2000 runs at a strike rate of 153. He has made an immediate impact in leagues around the world by scoring good knocks on his debut in the BPL and the LPL. He was awarded MoM in his last game for scoring 84
Arguably the world's best t20 bowler at the moment. Rashid has shown his prowess in both departments while playing in PSL and is familair with many Pak batter's and bowler's style of play. He has a good H2H record against the skipper Babar Azam dismissing him 5 times.
Naseem announced himself in the t20i format by bowling a sensational opening spell against India. Just like Hong Kong, Afg batters could find it tough to handle his early spell.