The significance of Asia Cup has never been as high as the one that begins on Wednesday. The only reason for this is the scheduling of the battle for Asian supremacy – before the 2016 edition of World T20.
The Asia Cup was never a significant tour ever before, but this time, in T20 format this continental tournament is bearing gratitude with the World T20 2016 will take place just one week after this tournament.
This tournament will lay out a platform for Asian countries to show their supremacy among the cocky neighbours before the World T20 begins.
The tournament has become significant than the past 12 editions as it wore format change – from ODI to T20. It now serves as the mega preparatory camp for Asian countries to get into the groove of World T20 2016 in India, at familiar conditions. Besides Asian giants India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh begin their campaign from February 24 two teams will be decided by the qualifying tournament currently being played between Afghanistan, UAE, Oman and Hog Kong.
Since the format has undergone a change, picking a favourite wouldn’t be a wise decision. But, Pakistan with experience of Pakistan Super League will be the favourite and will pose an immense challenge to other teams. Though, bowling great said that Indians are the firm favourite against Pakistan in Sunday, February 27 game at Mirpur, Dhaka, anything can happen in this format.
Pakistan Super League gave selectors some extremely talented cricketers in the circle, the experience will be the big asset in Asia Cup. Shahid Afridi who possibly play his last Asia Cup before he takes retirement after playing the World T20 in India would like to hold the trophies once agin in his life to end his career on a glorious note. Afridi, himself will be the flag bearer of hopes assisted by veteran Shoaib Malik.
The Pakistan challenge The best chance, however, remains with Pakistan. The Pakistan Super League has shown some serious talent in Pakistan cricketing circles and the experience will help them in the Asia Cup. Once again, Shahid Afridi will be the flag-bearer of hopes assisted by veteran Shoaib Malik.
Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Irfan will lead the bowling for them. Considering the value, Pakistan also included veteran seamer Mohammad Sami in the squad. Sami has taken 11 wickets in 6 matches with a scintillating figure 5 for 8 wickets against Karachi Kings.
They also got quite a few young players who played well in PSL. Sarjeel Khan, who hit 62 balls 117 against Peshawar Zalmi to book Islamabad United place in the final, will add solidity to the strong batting line up. Meanwhile, Khalid Rashid was taken for his hard hitting batting style.
Given the records of player, it would be a surprise of Pakistan fail to make the final. Given the T20I records of their players, it would be a surprise if Pakistan fail to make it to the final. But sometimes, an ordinary team with best plans make Pakistan to lost the track and eventually lost the match. Pakistan infamous.
Pakistan squad: Shahid Afridi (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Sarfraz Ahmed (wicketkeeper), Immad Wasim, Anwer Ali, Babar Azam (withdrawn due to injury), Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Aamir, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Irfan, Rumman Raees (withdrawn due to injury), Wahab Riaz, Khurram Manzoor, Sharjeel Khan, Mohammad Sami (both came in as replacements for Babar and Rumman).