Pakistan, on Saturday, announced their XI for their Asia Cup Super 4 match against India on Sunday at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. There were no changes to the side that beat Bangladesh to get their Super 4 campaign off to a flying start. That means they will have four seamers to attack the Indian batting line-up. Faheem Ashraf, who did not play the group match against India, was retained in the playing XI.
The pitches in Sri Lanka have shown enough signs of assisting both the spinners and pacers but Pakistan have chosen to back their strength. And quite understandably so. Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, and Naseem Shah had taken all 10 wickets against India in the group stage match at Pallekele.
The need for a fourth seamer was felt in that match when India batters Ishan Kishan and Hardik Pandya milked Pakistan spinners Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, and Agha Salman in the middle overs to stage a comeback in the match. Despite losing 4 wickets for only 66, they managed to put 266 runs on the board mainly due to the outstanding fifth-wicket partnership between Kishan and Pandya.
Many believed things could have been different had Pakistan got a fourth seamer up their sleeves. Captain Babar Azam and the Pakistan team management were quick to act by bringing Ashram in the Bangladesh match. The impact was telling. Ashraf picked up only wicket in that match but it was that of Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan, who was batting on 53. Pakistan were able to stop Bangladesh from making a comeback into the match like India.
The four-pronged pace attack doesn’t mean Pakistan don’t have resources in the spin department. Their spin attack will be led by vice-captain Shadab Khan and If needed they have part-timers Salman and Iftikhar Ahmed to do the job.
On the eve of the match, Babar said Pakistan have the edge. “You can say we have the edge, as we have played back-to-back cricket here (in Sri Lanka) and in Pakistan,” Azam told reporters. “It has been two-and-a-half months in Sri Lanka including the Test series, Lanka Premier League, Afghanistan series and now the Asia Cup. So you can say it will be an advantage (for us).”
Rain in the Sri Lankan capital is expected to play spoilsport again in the match, for which a reserve day has been kept aside.
Pakistan XI vs India: Babar Azam (Captain), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Salman Agha, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Faheem Ashraf, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf.