Asia Cup 2022: Pakistan’s expected playing XI against India
Stakes couldn’t be higher as arch-rivals Pakistan and India are set to clash in their respective opening matches of the Asia Cup on Sunday.
Though the tournament will start from August 27, where hosts Sri Lanka will take on Afghanistan, however, all eyes will be at the Dubai International Stadium, where arch-rivals will lock horns on August 28.
Last time the two sides met at the venue during the T20 World Cup 2021, Pakistan humiliated India as they handed then a 10-wicket defeat.
This time things are a bit different, Pakistan are without their premier fast-bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi, experienced all-rounders Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez.
For India, they are also without the services of Jasprit Bumrah.
With some new faces in the squad, here is how Pakistan could lineup for the high-octane fixture:
We won’t expect the team management to change the lethal combination of skipper Babar Azam – the top-ranked batter currently – and wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan – number three in the ICC T20I batters rankings.
Experience batter Fakhar Zaman, who serves as an opener in ODIs for Pakistan, would follow the openers. His form will be crucial for Pakistan if they want to proceed in the tournament.
The fourth spot is a bit debateable, with experienced all-rounder Iftikhar Ahmed or rookie batter Haider Ali in the squad. It will be a tough call for the team management, whether they go for the experience or give youngster another chance with ICC T20 World Cup just around the corner.
With Iftikhar, they will have an additional bowling option on spinner-friendly track, while with Haider, they will have a proper batter at the position.
Team management should go with Haider keeping an eye on the upcoming World Cup in Australia, where his presence in the middle would benefit the Men in Green.
At number five, Pakistan vice-captain Shadab Khan will be the obvious choice. However, his batting position may change depending on the situation. He too will be very lethal with the ball on the turning wickets of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Hard-hitter Khushdil Shah would be taking the guard at number six. He is best suited for this role along with Asif Ali, who will follow him.
We all know what all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz can do with the bat, as he is one of the obvious first choice players currently in the squad.
If Mohammad Wasim Jr would have been a perfect option if he would have not been injured just a couple of days before the tournament.
With Wasim now out of the tournament, Hasan Ali, who missed out due to poor form, has been named his replacement.
However, his participation in the playing XI won’t be likely, as he would be arriving in Dubai on the match day (Sunday).
In this scenario, Mohammad Hasnain is likely to get a chance to feature in the XI. He was picked as Shaheen Shah Afridi’s placement. However, reports suggest that Dahani may be included in the lineup.
Haris Rauf is one of the obvious choices in the playing XI. He has proved himself as one of the specialist in the shortest format of the game.
Naseem Shah could get a place in the XI after impressive outings against Sri Lanka and Netherlands.
This means, we could be seeing Naseem in action in the T20s for the first time in international cricket.
Pakistan probable XI:
Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmed/ Haider Ali, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Khushdil Shah, Asif Ali, Mohammad Hasnain/ Shahnawaz Dahani, Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah.
Pakistan squad for ACC T20 Asia Cup
Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Hasan Ali, Naseem Shah, Shahnawaz Dahani and Usman Qadir.