Injury-plagued Pakistan face a daunting challenge as they prepare to take on Sri Lanka in a crucial Super 4 match with a place in the Asia Cup final at stake. Both teams find themselves with two points, setting the stage for a virtual knockout game to determine the finalist for the September 17 showdown. India have already secured their spot in the summit clash after defeating Sri Lanka by 41 runs in a recent Super Four encounter. Led by Rohit Sharma, the Indian team leads the table with four points, leaving Pakistan with a significant challenge on their hands as they gear up for their crucial clash against the formidable Sri Lankans.
The Babar Azam-led side faced a humbling defeat at the hands of arch-rivals India in their Super 4 clash on Monday, suffering a crushing 228-run loss. India posted a formidable 356-2 in their 50 overs, fueled by Virat Kohli’s 47th century and KL Rahul’s triumphant return to ODIs with his sixth ton. In stark contrast, Pakistan was bowled out for a mere 128, with Kuldeep Yadav securing a five-wicket haul.
The heavy defeat undoubtedly takes a toll on the team’s morale, and their situation is further worsened by the injuries to key players Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf. Naseem Shah has been ruled out of the Asia Cup, and Zaman Khan has been named as his replacement. Former Pakistan captain Ramiz Raja, however, believes that the side need not think about the game too much and instead, focus on recovering from the loss to return fresh for the must-win clash against Sri Lanka.
“India have given Pakistan a ray of hope with the win over Sri Lanka. Now we’ve to see if Pakistan can take benefit from that, or whether they will be low on spirits because of the defeat against India. They need some time off the game, they have to be mentally switched-off, they got a reserve day. They’ve got a good two-day rest period where they shouldn’t think of cricket or the defeat but get together and talk,” said Ramiz on his official YouTube channel.
“If anyone needs special practice, they can take it. Go to pool, relax. Don’t touch social media, don’t watch television channels. There won’t be anything good there because whole Pakistan is disappointed. Get united. You point fingers at each other after such defeats, that too against India. That shouldn’t happen. I’m sure Babar Azam has united this team really well, and his work is to assure his players and get the team high in spirit ahead of the Sri Lanka clash.”
As with every previous game of the Asia Cup, Pakistan announced their playing XI with Fakhar Zaman being a notable absentee, along with Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf who will not be part of the XI due to injuries.