If an Affiliate facet needs to have fun a landmark day, who higher than Pakistan to share their (non-alcoholic) champagne with. They’ve championed the Associates’ trigger extra often and sincerely than another Full Member, who’ve by no means fairly exuded the prevalence advanced that, with the discount of the World Cup to 10 groups, has successfully turn out to be the ICC’s official coverage now. The conviviality of this fixture is much more intimate now because the Affiliate who has entered by the qualifiers is Hong Kong. Greater than half of their squad has Pakistani heritage, and plenty of them realized their craft within the nation that they are going to be attempting to upset.
Pakistan will look to place pragmatism first, although. That is severe enterprise; the Asia Cup is the third-biggest ODI match on this planet, given the variety of viewers within the continent and the eagerness of the followers far outstrips another regional fan base. And there is additionally the small matter of hitting high gear because the World Cup approaches. Pakistan will likely be keen to point out their Champions Trophy success final yr wasn’t a one-off, however a harbinger of a golden age that this younger staff is eager to spearhead. There’s a quiet confidence contained in the camp that their line-up, at its finest, is best than another within the competitors, and they’ll view the match towards Hong Kong as a chance to make an emphatic assertion.
However Hong Kong, who will play their first Asia Cup match since 2008, are not any pushovers. They’ve had a constant dose of cricket since 2014, taking part in towards the likes of Afghanistan and Eire. Their most spectacular win thus far got here towards Afghanistan earlier this yr within the World Cup qualifiers. Whereas that wasn’t sufficient to see them by to England in 2019, they did handle to peak on the proper time on the Asia Cup qualifiers in Malaysia, and edged out UAE in a thrilling final to make it to the UAE.
These will likely be appropriate circumstances for Hong Kong to carry out to the most effective of their talents. Spin bowling is their power, and if used effectively, may trigger Pakistan issues on the dry surfaces they’re prone to get in Dubai.
Nadeem Ahmed is the chief of the assault and was, astonishingly, part of each groups that performed the Asia Cup in 2002 and 2008. However whereas his skilled left-arm spin does come in useful, Hong Kong, as ever, have a strikingly younger staff to signify them. Twenty-year-old wicketkeeper Anshy Rath is captain, whereas no fewer than ten of the 17 gamers within the squad are but to have fun their 24th birthday.
Hong Kong: LLWLW (final 5 accomplished matches, most up-to-date first)
Within the highlight
Babar Azam is feted as Pakistan’s finest batting prospect for ages, and his statistics, particularly in ODI cricket, again up the hype. A median of near 55 with eight a whole bunch in 44 innings suggests a fairytale begin to his worldwide profession, and he will likely be feeling assured of shining at a multi-nation match. Contemporary on the again of a Zimbabwe tour the place he wasn’t actually challenged – he scored 184 runs in 4 innings whereas being dismissed solely as soon as – he’ll view the Hong Kong recreation as a perfect alternative to get his eye in earlier than the match towards India on Wednesday.
If Pakistan bat first, count on them to attain large, and when that occurs today, Babar tends to finish up amongst large runs. With Virat Kohli not taking part in the match, it is even debatable that he’s the most effective participant within the competitors, however will probably be a lot sweeter to have that stated about him on the finish of the match reasonably than the start.
Hong Kong is the one facet within the match with a captain underneath the age of 30. And that is by a long way; Anshy Rath is barely 20 years outdated. A basic case of Hong Kong pushing their youth coverage to the restrict, Rath was appointed after star batsman Babar Hayat abruptly stepped down on the eve of the primary qualifying recreation final month. It did not appear to overly burden him as he went on to attain a century in his third match as skipper, following it with a vital half-century against Nepal, to finish up their main run-scorer within the competitors. He won’t have dreamed of taking over Pakistan and India earlier than his 21st birthday, by no means thoughts main his facet out for these video games. It is going to be an emotional second for Rath, however for a cricketer to whom stardom comes so simply, who’s to say he will not burst to international fame with a noteworthy efficiency within the subsequent few days.
The Pakistan middle-order batsman missed the 2016 Asia Cup due to damage however since then he has been a constant performer for his facet
Hong Kong’s batting depth has been a priority, significantly since Mark Chapman left to ply his trade in New Zealand. The highest order will likely be essential, however they’re unlikely to make any adjustments to the facet that eked out a nervy win towards the UAE within the qualifying ultimate.
Hong Kong (possible): 1 Nizakat Khan, 2 Anshy Rath (capt & wk), three Babar Hayat, four KD Shah, 5 Christopher Carter, 6 Ehsan Khan, 7 Aizaz Khan, eight Scott McKechnie, 9 Tanwir Afzal, 10 Ehsan Nawaz, 11 Nadeem Ahmed
Pakistan, too, are prone to take this recreation as critically as another, if solely as a result of they’ll need their strongest XI firing on all cylinders forward of their assembly with India. The largest query nonetheless stays whether or not Pakistan know what their finest bowling mixture is, and which of the six quick bowlers they’ve dropped at the UAE deserve the nod within the ultimate XI.
Pakistan (possible): 1 Fakhar Zaman, 2 Imam-ul-Haq, three Babar Azam, four Shoaib Malik, 5 Sarfraz Ahmed (capt & wk), 6 Asif Ali 7 Shadab Khan, eight Faheem Ashraf, 9 Mohammad Amir, 10 Hasan Ali, 11 Usman Khan
Pitch and circumstances
The Dubai floor is normally extraordinarily dry, even by the UAE requirements, however it does are likely to take flip afterward within the match, significantly underneath lights. The climate will likely be extraordinarily scorching and sunny – the forecast for the very best tomorrow is 41 C – which can take a look at the health of the fast bowlers.
Stats and trivia
From the 22 gamers who lined up towards one another when these two groups met for the first time, in 2004, one participant from both sides remains to be standing. Shoaib Malik and Nadeem are prone to battle once more, simply as they did in Colombo 14 years in the past.
It’s practically three years since Pakistan misplaced an ODI within the UAE. That got here towards England in November 2015, and since then, Pakistan have gained all eight matches they’ve performed there.