Pakistan and Afghanistan, two teams who are very familiar with the conditions in UAE, will be up against each other for the first time in the Asia Cup, on Wednesday, and only the third time in T20Is. Though Pakistan have a perfect record against Afghanistan – having won both the matches in 2013 and 2019 – it’s going to be anybody’s game in Sharjah.
Pakistan, meanwhile, have been able to put up convincing victories despite injuries to key players and their captain being out of form. Mohammad Rizwan has done well to cover for Babar Azam, with 192 runs from three innings. The likes of Fakhar Zaman and Khushdil Shah have also chipped in, and in the previous match, against India, allrounder Mohammad Nawaz blazed away to 42 off 20 balls after being promoted to No.4.
Bowling still remains their biggest strength, with spinners Shadab Khan and Nawaz sharing 13 wickets between them from three matches. Add the young Naseem Shah to the picture and the attack looks even more potent.
Pakistan: WWLLW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
The team batting first will be looking to score big, as has been the case in two out of three matches played in Sharjah. Pakistan posted 193 against Hong Kong, and Sri Lanka chased down Afghanistan’s 175.
Rizwan, who injured his knee on Sunday, has been cleared to play by the Pakistan medical team and will keep his place both at the top of the order, and behind the wicket.
Pakistan (probable): 1 Babar Azam (capt), 2 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 3 Fakhar Zaman, 4 Iftikhar Ahmed, 5 Khushdil Shah, 6 Shadab Khan, 7 Asif Ali, 8 Mohammad Nawaz, 9 Naseem Shah, 10 Haris Rauf, 11 Mohammad Hasnain
Afghanistan are unlikely to make changes.
Afghanistan: 1 Hazratullah Zazai, 2 Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), 3 Ibrahim Zadran, 4 Najibullah Zadran, 5 Mohammad Nabi (capt), 6 Karim Janat, 7 Rashid Khan, 8 Azmatullah Omarzai, 9 Naveen-ul-Haq, 10 Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, 11 Fazalhaq Farooqi.