Pakistan will start their Group B encounter against the qualifiers, Hong Kong in the Asia Cup 2018 at the Dubai International Stadium on September 16 (Sunday).
Meanwhile, Hong Kong have done exceedingly well to reach the main tournament beating Nepal and the United Arab Emirates, two teams with ODI status. Pakistan are coming off an extended break, and the Asia Cup starts a hectic period for them. Thus, they will be keen to begin their long season on a high against Hong Kong.
Pakistan last played against Zimbabwe dominated by the batsmen especially Fakhar Zaman. However, Pakistan’s batting order has a lot more than just him. Imam-ul-Haq enjoyed a run-laden series against Zimbabwe, as did the highly-rated Babar Azam. Throw in the all-round potential of Shoaib Malik and Faheem Ashraf, Pakistan’s batting looks mighty useful.
On the other hand, it will be a monumental opportunity for Hong Kong to showcase their talent in the Asia Cup matches. They are a young side and have a lot of energy, however, lacks experience. This will be a learning curve for the players which will guide them to grow in the future.
Pakistan’s strength has always revolved around their bowling and with as many as six pacers in the fray. They will look to adopt the rotational policy to keep their players as they can face their arch-rivals India thrice in this Asia Cup.
Pitch and Conditions
The Dubai surface is usually arid, even by the UAE standards, but it does tend to take turn later on in the match, particularly under lights. The weather will be scorching and sunny.
The temperature will hover around 41 C – which may test the fitness of the quick bowlers. The team winning the toss will be likely to bat bowl first, considering the previous records.
Hong Kong are unlikely to tinker with the playing XI that served them so well in the Asia Cup qualifiers. They played some outstanding cricket to beat teams like Nepal and UAE, who has ODI status.
Probable XI: Nizakat Khan, Anshuman Rath (c), Babar Hayat, Kinchit Shah, Christopher Carter, Ehsan Khan, Aizaz Khan, Scott McKechnie (wk), Tanwir Afzal, Ehsan Nawaz, Nadeem Ahmed
Having come off a long break, Pakistan would most likely field the same XI that beat Zimbabwe so convincingly. On pitches that are likely to be slow and low, Shadab Khan could probably be the lone spinner with Faheem Ashraf edging out Mohammad Nawaz for the all-rounder spot.
Probable XI: Fakhar Zaman, Imam ul Haq, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk), Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Usman Khan Shinwari
The match 2 of the Asia Cup between Pakistan and Hong Kong seems to be a comfortable getaway for the two times champions. Moreover, they will look at it as the practice game for the all-important clash against arch-rivals India.
Hong Kong with experience written all over the side can hardly put any resistance to the well-oiled team Pakistan.