Pakistan bring with them a battery of pacers, but the focus will be on Mohammad Amir, who will be under scrutiny for not just his bowling.
As they take on India on Saturday, the pacers will be the key to Pakistan’s success. Amir, who will be playing his first high-profile game since his return to international cricket, has been on a high.
The 23-year-old was one of the most valuable bowlers in the just-concluded Pakistan Super League (PSL), which saw him claim a hattrick in one of the games.
Banned for five years after being found guilty in the 2010 spot-fixing scandal, Amir returned to cricket last year. Incidentally, it was his impressive showing in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) that won him a place back in the national side.
Amir, who played for the Chittagong Vikings in BPL, made an impressive appearance, scalping 14 wickets at an economy rate of 5.56.
The Asia Cup will be a mental hurdle since all the talk after the team’s arrival here has centred on Amir. With the added pressure of an Indo-Pak clash, pressure will be at its peak.
The young pacer had caused a mini protest among teammates, with Mohammad Hafeez taking offence to his inclusion in the side. The matter has since been put to rest with both sharing the dressing room during the series against New Zealand.
Skipper Shahid Afridi reiterated on Friday that the side was united and focused on the task at hand.
So far in the three matches at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium in Mirpur, the wickets have favoured the seam bowlers. It is likely to be the case on Saturday as well and Amir will be a weapon Afridi will turn to in a bid to rock the India batting order.
“Pace bowlers are the main form of attack in these conditions. We have four pacers and they are cricketers who are wicket-taking,” said Afridi.
“Amir, Wahab (Riaz) or (Mohd) Irfan are in good shape. I know India’s batting is strong but we have a formidable bowling attack. I hope the result will be good for us,” he added.