Asia Cup 2022: Pakistan aims for Super 4 berth, faces Hong Kong in virtual knockout

Pakistan aims to enter the Super 4 stage as it takes on Hong Kong in the Group A match of the Asia Cup 2022 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Friday.

Pakistan skipper Babar Azam during a practice session at the ICC Academy Ground in Dubai.

Pakistan skipper Babar Azam during a practice session at the ICC Academy Ground in Dubai. | Photo Credit: AFP

Pakistan aims to enter the Super 4 stage as it takes on Hong Kong in the Group A match of the Asia Cup 2022 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Friday.

Pakistan will take on Hong Kong in a Group A game in Sharjah on Friday for a place in the Super 4 round of the Asia Cup. Both teams lost their respective campaign openers, which makes this a virtual knockout.

Although Hong Kong lost its first match to India, there were a few positives. Hong Kong had kept India down to only 70 in the first 10 overs with Ehsan Khan and Yasim Murtaza, although wicketless, conceding less than seven runs per over.

Hong Kong’s death bowling is an issue, which was acknowledged by skipper Nizakat Khan. His bowlers leaked 58 runs in the last four overs.

Pakistan endured a similar shortcoming against India after its death bowlers Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf cramped up. Hasan Ali, who has replaced an injured Mohammad Wasim, did not play against India but could get a look-in against Hong Kong.

Hasan was earlier dropped from Pakistan’s squad for the ODI series in the Netherlands and for the Asia Cup after a poor run of form with the ball although skipper Babar Azam, on the eve of India v Pakistan, insisted that “Hasan was not dropped, he was rested.”

Batting in focus

Hong Kong batters put up a strong display in the PowerPlay against India, racking up 51 for the loss of two wickets.

But once the field spread, its scoring rate dipped. It needs to find a way to rotate strike with good running between the wickets.

Meanwhile, Pakistan could consider sending Mohammad Rizwan or Babar at No.3 position and open with Fakhar Zaman, especially if it is batting first.

The Babar-Rizwan opening combo was pivotal to Pakistan’s spirited run to the semis of last year’s T20 World Cup in the UAE. But in the absence of Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik, Pakistan’s middle order wears a fragile look, and the early dismissal of either Babar or Rizwan puts pressure on the rest of the line-up. It was evident during the match against India.

The Sharjah track could be low and slow, with assistance for the spinners. The temperatures will be sweltering, and an evening match means dew could be a concern.

Squads
Pakistan Squad: Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Naseem Shah, Shahnawaz Dahani, Usman Qadir, Asif Ali, Mohammad Hasnain, Hasan Ali
Hong Kong Squad: Babar Hayat, Mohammad Ghazanfar, Kinchit Shah, Nizakat Khan (c), Aizaz Khan, Yasim Murtaza, Zeeshan Ali, Scott McKechnie, Haroon Arshad, Aftab Hussain, Ehsan Khan, Dhananjay Rao, Ayush Shukla, Wajid Shah, Mohammad Waheed, Ahan Trivedi, Ateeq Iqbal
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