Pakistan has always been one of the most unpredictable sides in world cricket, despite their array of talented cricketers, who are capable of winning games single-handedly. The present Pakistan squad for the Asia Cup 2016, which starts from Wednesday, is no different.
The no-nonsense cricketer, Shahid Afridi will, without a shadow of doubt, give it his all in the Asia Cup and expect the same from his teammates. Pakistan might not be a huge favourite to lift the Asia Cup title, but one cannot turn a blind eye to their stars such as Mohammad Irfan, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Hafeez, Umar Akmal and Shoaib Malik. If these players get their game right, other teams will suffer, and it will not be a surprise to witness Pakistan lift their third Asia Cup title.
With the Asia Cup starting within a day of the conclusion of the Pakistan Super League, the Men in Green will not be short of any practice in the T20 format. All the players picked for the Pakistan squad have been impressive in the PSL, which will give the team immense confidence.
On the other hand, excessive cricket in the PSL might bring in a question of fatigue, for some of these Pakistan players like Riaz and Akmal, who have featured regularly in the competition.
Pakistan, despite possessing good batsmen, are a stronger bowling unit in the PSL. With Riaz and Irfan expected to lead the attack for Pakistan with the new ball, Afridi will count on the two pacers to provide the team with breakthroughs.
Apart from the duo, Pakistan will also look forward to Mohammad Amir, with his good pace and accuracy, to trouble the batsmen. In the spin department, Pakistan has the find of the PSL, Mohammad Nawaz, who has taken 13 wickets in the competition, and is expected to play an integral role in the final on Tuesday for Quetta Galdiators. Afridi is their other leading spinner in the team.
Though the Pakistan team resembles a strong bowling unit, the batsmen have to peform if they are to go far in the Asia Cup. In the shortest format of the game, it is the batsmen, who have an important role to play. Pakistan will depend on Akmal and Hafeez. Not only do these players have great experience on the international cricket, their form in the PSL has been outstanding. Akmal and Hafeez have scored 335 runs and 220 runs respectively in the PSL.
However, Pakistan's record in the T20 format in their last two series has been below par, losing to England 0-3 and 1-2 to New Zealand. Pakistan need to gel as a unit in the Asia Cup or they might have to face disappointment.
Pakistan squad for Asia Cup
Shahid Afridi (C), Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Sharjeel Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Anwar Ali, Mohammad Irfan, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Nawaz, Khurram Manzoor, Mohammad Sami.