Asia Cup: Khaleel, Kedar and an 18-year-old Afridi

The Asia Cup is a chance for five teams to potentially test their bench strength and hone in on a combination for the World Cup in 2019. As the battle to establish continental supremacy is set in the United Arab Emirates, here is a look at some of the players who might pull the rabbit out of the hat in the scorching desert.

DASUN SHANAKA (Sri Lanka) — The explosive 65 off 34 balls in the recently concluded series against South Africa in August reflects his power. A week after, he smashed 81 for Kandy (against Dambulla), 60 not out (against Colombo) and an unbeaten 105 (against Galle) in the domestic T20 tournament. Having a power hitter at No 8 is luxury in limited-overs cricket. [Getty Images] Photo: Getty Images
MAHMUDULLAH (Bangladesh) — Averaging 43.80 with the bat in 2018, Mahmudullah has left his inconsistencies behind. In July, the right-hander smashed a 49-ball 67 in the third One Day International against West Indies, which eventually gave Bangladesh the series. If Shakib Al Hasan sits out due to his injury, Mahmudullah has the potential to be the new No 3. There are players like Sabbir Rahman and Mushfiqur Rahim down the order to finish off games. [Getty Images] Photo: Getty Images
MOHAMMAD SHAHZAD (Afghanistan) — The Afghanistan wicketkeeper-batsman is now known for his unforgettable match-winning knock, 84 off 93 balls, against the Windies in the final of the World Cup Qualifier in Harare in March. As a stumper, he has 78 dismissals to his name in 71 ODIs. Being the opening batsman, the Afghans would rely on him for a start. [Getty Images] Photo: Getty Images
KHALEEL AHMED (India) — A promising left-arm fast bowler, Khaleel, who represents Rajasthan in domestic cricket, consistently delivers at 140 kmph. Coming from the Rahul Dravid school of coaching, Khaleel idolises former India pace spearhead Zaheer Khan and has 28 wickets in 17 List A games. He claimed 17 wickets in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy this year. If Khaleel is included in the XI, he will be the lone left-arm pacer in the ranks. [Getty Images] Photo: Getty Images
AIZAZ KHAN (Hong Kong) — Aizaz picked up 10 wickets in the Asia Cup Qualifier tournament, which includes a match-winning fifer against UAE in the final. The right-arm medium fast bowler has 28 wickets in 23 T20Is. He also maintains a decent strike rate of 71.47 as a lower-order batsman. Being a Mohammad Amir fan, he will hope to learn a trick or two from the Pakistani talent when the teams meet. [Getty Images] Photo: Getty Images
SHAHEEN AFRIDI (Pakistan) — Afridi came under spotlight after he was drafted into Lahore Qalandars in the Pakistan Super League in 2018. He is familiar with the conditions, and with his towering presence, he can throw down bullets from six feet six inches. The 18-year-old pacer is the youngest member of the Pakistan side. [] Photo:
KEDAR JADHAV (India) — There are plenty of contenders for the middle-order spot in India. But Dinesh Karthik, Ambati Rayudu and Manish Pandey do not have Kedar Jadhav’s side-arm off-spin — which, at times, is difficult to read. India’s spin pool comprises wrist-spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, and Jadhav’s off-spin strikes a balance in the absence of Ravichandran Ashwin. Photo: Getty Images