Asia Cup 2018: Pakistan squad analysis
Pakistan announced a 16-member squad for the upcoming Asia Cup 2018. They will open their campaign on September 16 against the qualifying side. Drawn in Pool A, Pakistan will be pitted against arch-rivals India on September 19. Pakistan will be led by the experienced Sarfraz Ahmed. He had earlier guided them to the ICC 2017 Champions Trophy honors. Here we analyze Pakistan's squad.
Pakistan's 16-man squad: Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Amir, Shadab Khan, Imam-ul Haq, Shan Masood, Babar Azam, Asif Ali, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Nawaz, Fahim Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan, Usman Shinwari, Shaheen Afridi.
Pakistan's batting will rely heavily on the in-form opening duo of Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul Haq. Zaman was their star performer in the 5-match ODI clean sweep against Zimbabwe. In Imam, they have found a rising star. Shan Masood is another option. With Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik, the middle order looks solid. Shadab Khan and Haris Sohail are dependable as well.
Fakhar Zaman will be the key figure for Pakistan. Recently, he became the fastest batsman ever to reach 1,000-run mark in ODIs. He achieved the feat in just 18 innings. He is also the first Pakistani to score a double hundred in ODIs.
Pakistan's bowling looks strong and features the likes of Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan and Hasan Ali. The pace trio will offer a lot of variations and different qualities. All eyes will be on 18-year-old fast bowler Shaheen Afridi. He is yet to make his debut in ODI cricket and has played 3 T20Is for Pakistan. Bowling all-rounder Faheem Ashraf adds balance.
Pakistan dropped senior player Mohammad Hafeez. Chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq stated the reason, behind the same, was his fitness. Pakistan last won the Asia Cup in 2012. In 2014, they ended up losing in the final against Sri Lanka. This year we see the 50-over format returning after the 2016 edition was a T20I affair. The tournament kicks-off from September 15.