Asia Cup 2018: Five Pakistan players who can trouble India in clash of titans
It’s that time again when the cricket field turns into a battlefield. Cricket fanatics across the world cannot wait as one of the most heated rivalries in cricket is here. India take on Pakistan in the Asia Cup 2018 in a Group A encounter and it will be the first time that the two teams meet since Pakistan walked all over India in the final of Champions Trophy at the Oval in June 2017. That was after India had done the same to Pakistan at Edgbaston in the group stages.
Pakistan have come into the Asia Cup on the back of a 5-0 mauling of Zimbabwe. Hindustan Times takes a look at five key Pakistan players that could concern India with bat, ball or both in this group-stage encounter:
Fakhar Zaman – Fakhar struck a delightful century in the final of the 2017 Champions Trophy final and that helped Pakistan put up a score that was beyond India’s reach, so the team knows what he is capable of. Since then the 28-year-old has become the first Pakistani batsman to hit a double century in ODI cricket and that shows how he has developed. India’s new ball bowlers need to keep a lid on his progress or it could be an exercise in leather hunt.
Imam-ul-Haq - Nephew of former Pakistan captain and legend Inzamam-ul-Haq, Imam certainly has genes that could allow him to prosper in the International arena. The 22-year-old has had a barnstorming start to his ODI career hitting four centuries in just nine innings. His partnership with Fakhar Zaman has been the backbone of Pakistan’s success lately and limiting the damage from the opening partnership should be primary concern for any opposition.
Babar Azam - What makes Pakistan such a dangerous side in ODI cricket is the fact that destructive batsmen keep coming one after the other. Another one in the long line is Babar Azam. The 23-year-old has an excellent record in coloured clothing, especially in UAE where he has scored five centuries in just 11 innings. He likes to bat through the innings and that allows others to be aggressive and play their shots at will. His wicket can cause Pakistan to alter their plans drastically.
Shadab Khan – Spinners are vital for any team when the matches are being held in Asia and Shadab Khan is now undisputed no. 1 tweaker in the side and the way he bowls to a relatively inexperienced Indian batting line-up could change the direction of the match. He is more than handy with the bat and his batting lower down the order adds to team’s strength and depth.
Hasan Ali – Pakistan have always been blessed with quality pace attack and this team is no different. Hasan Ali is one of the more experienced fast bowlers in Pakistan side and his bowling will make a difference. With an action that aids reverse swing in helpful conditions, his performances will be the key. How India cope with his changes of pace when he bowls with a semi-new ball could set the scene of the match.