Pakistan and Hong Kong will lock horns with each other in Sharjah on Friday, at 19:30 IST, to claim the final Super Four berth in the ongoing Asia Cup 2022.
Both teams lost their opening encounters of the tournament to India and now they need to win this match to qualify for the Super Four.
Can Pakistan overcome their top-order and death bowling issues?
Although Pakistan lost the last match against India, it went right down to the wire. That was mainly because of the efforts of the Pakistan lower-order that added valuable runs towards the end. The top-order failed to add any significant runs and batted too slowly. That’s an issue they need to address in this match.
Their death bowling is also something they need to become better with. Pakistan were in control of the match against India until things changed in the death overs. Naseem Shah also got injured while bowling in the last match and it remains to be seen whether he will be fit to play in this game. If Pakistan can address these two issues, they can be pretty certain about qualifying for the Super Four.
Can Hong Kong pull off an upset?
Hong Kong lost their last match against India but they put on a pretty spirited performance as they lost the match by just 40 runs. They had kept the Indian batters under pressure until Suryakumar Yadav turned the tide with his magnificent knock.
They also tried their best to chase the target of 193 down and also got off to a pretty good start in the powerplay, before losing the plot in the middle-overs. Hong Kong have already shown that they have the potential and quality to put on strong performances against big teams. They are hungry and it will be a stellar view if they manage to pull off an upset against Pakistan.
Babar Azam and his men have played eight T20 international matches since the T20 World Cup last year and have won six of them while losing twice. Incidentally, both of their losses have come this year, including the one against India in this Asia Cup.
Hong Kong has taken part in nine T20 international matches during the same period and has won five of them while losing four times. They were on a three-match winning streak before losing the last match against India.
Possible Playing XIs
Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf, Shahnawaz Dahani
Nizakat Khan (c), Yasim Murtaza, Babar Hayat, Kinchit Shah, Aizaz Khan, Scott McKechnie (wk), Zeeshan Ali, Haroon Arshad, Ehsan Khan, Ayush Shukla, Mohammad Ghazanfar
Players to Watch
Shadab Khan: Shadab is a bankable bowler, who can deliver four overs of quality wrist-spin. He is also a dependable batter as he can play quick cameos in the late middle-order.
The all-rounder has claimed 73 wickets in 65 T20i outings for Pakistan, at an excellent average of 22.05. He has also amassed 285 runs, including a best score of 42.
Babar Hayat: The top-order batter played a big role in helping Hong Kong qualify for this Asia Cup and he also played an excellent hand of 41 Off 35 deliveries against India.
Hayat has featured in 33 T20i matches in his career so far and has amassed 799 runs, including a hundred and six fifties.
Hong Kong have already shown that they have the spirit in them to compete against big teams. They have some quality players too, but all that isn’t going to be enough to beat a side of Pakistan’s quality. Pakistan are a far more superior side and have more players with big-match experience. So, Babar Azam and his men are the favourites to win this game.