Afghanistan will lock horns with Pakistan in a must-win Super 4 clash in the ongoing Asia Cup 2022 in Sharjah on Wednesday.
While Pakistan are coming into this encounter on the back of a confidence-boosting win over India, Afghanistan lost their previous Super 4 match to Sri Lanka and will need to win this encounter to stay alive in the competition.
Can Afghanistan tame their superior Asian rivals?
Afghanistan won both of their group stage encounters against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to book their berth in the Super 4 stage. They were the best team in Group B and registered commanding victories in both matches. However, things went upside down for them in the Super 4 clash against Sri Lanka, whom they defeated quite easily in their group stage encounter.
Mohammad Nabi and his men posted quite a good total of 175 in the previous match but Sri Lanka put on a spirited batting effort to chase it down. There aren’t that many mistakes on Afghanistan’s part to point out, but their death bowling certainly needs to be better in this clash against Pakistan. After all, they have far more experienced players in both batting and bowling departments, and that will play a big role in deciding the outcome of this contest.
Pakistan will look to dominate once again
Pakistan had a tough start to the previous game against India as Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul went hammer and tongs at the start of the innings. But the spinners helped them pull the match back and the pacers performed brilliantly in the death overs fmto restrict India to 181/7 on an excellent batting track. The batters put on an excellent show as they have in most of their matches previously to chase the target down.
The entire team looks in good shape as most players are performing well. Only Skipper Babar Azam’s form is a bit concerning as he has dismal scores of 10, 9 and 14 in this tournament so far. But Mohammad Rizwan’s good batting form has helped Pakistan dominate in the last two matches and they will be banking on him to deliver once again.
After losing the first match against India, Pakistan have won their last two matches by big margins of 155 runs and five wickets respectively. Their confidence and morale is high, and they will be eager to make it a hat-trick of wins in this tournament now.
Mohammad Nabi and his men started the tournament with back-to-back wins against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, but faltered in the previous match against Sri Lanka. It was still a good performance, though, and that’s why Afghanistan needs to keep their spirits high while going into this contest.
Possible Playing XIs
Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Babar Azam (c), Fakhar Zaman, Khushdil Shah, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Asif Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hasnain, Naseem Shah
Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Ibrahim Zadran, Mohammad Nabi (c), Najibullah Zadran, Karim Janat, Samiullah Shinwari, Rashid Khan, Naveen-ul-Haq, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Fazalhaq Farooqi
Players to Watch
The all-rounder has delivered some excellent performances with both bat and ball in almost all matches in this tournament so far.
Nawaz has picked up seven wickets in the three matches so far, at a brilliant average of 9.00 and excellent economy rate of 6.51. As far as his batting goes, he has amassed 43 runs, including his match-winning 42 off 20 balls against India.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman
The spinner has been a bankable bowler for Afghanistan in this tournament. Mujeeb has helped them in controlling the middle-overs and put a leash on the opposition’s scoring rate.
He has picked up seven wickets in the tournament so far, at an outstanding average of 10.00 and he has maintained a brilliant economy rate of 5.83 while doing that as well.
Afghanistan have a potent batting and bowling unit that is capable of destroying any team on their day. But what they lack is enough big-match experience and the habit of delivering under pressure. Pakistan are much more adept at that, along with having quality and depth in both batting and bowling departments, and it makes them the favourites to win this battle.