The Asia Cup heads back over to Sharjah on Wednesday as the Super 4 stage of the competition continues when Afghanistan look to get back into contention to make the final when they go up against Pakistan.
Afghanistan were beaten in their opening match of this stage of the tournament and they will be out of qualifying contention if they lose here. Pakistan won their opening game and another win here and they’ll have a foot in the final.
When they cruised through the opening phase of the tournament, Afghanistan put themselves up as contenders for the title but they were the victims of losing the toss in the first match of the Super 4 and as we know the longer this competition has gone on the more the impact of losing the coin flip is significant. What will have disappointed them is that they put up a decent score but they just couldn’t negate the conditions to convert it into a victory.
Afghanistan have been brutal with the bat throughout the competition but the longer it has gone on the more they have struggled with the ball. We know a lot of that is down to the dew and it will be interesting to see if something is put on the surface to stop the conditions having so much of an impact here. If there is then whenever you have the likes of Rashid Khan, Mujeeb et al on show anything is possible.
After having to battle their way through the opening stage of the competition in what was effectively a knockout match, Pakistan made full use of their opening game in this phase of the tournament and are now favourites to go on and progress to the final and potentially win the event. They have players in good form and big players at that and if there is one thing which will boost the confidence and belief of the Pakistan men it is a win over India.
What I liked most about the Pakistan win over India on Sunday was how they hung in there with the ball. India got off to a fast start with the bat but Pakistan were able to take wickets regularly to keep things in check and then when they had the bat in hand they were able to take advantage of the conditions and get over the line. Matches between those two sides come with oceans of pressure so to hold themselves together and get over the line is a huge statement.
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Despite their defeat in the opening match of the Super 4 stage, Afghanistan didn’t do a whole lot wrong other than lose the toss so they are likely to go in with the same side and hope they win the coin flip to give them a chance.
Pakistan had an injury scare over Mohammad Rizwan during the win over India. He has since been for a scan but that has revealed no damage so he is fit to play in this one. Pakistan are likely to be unchanged as a result.
After starting out on some ordinary wickets this tournament has caught fire in the run scoring department. The last six matches have all had a first innings score of 170 or more and the only team who hasn’t chased down that total was Hong Kong against Pakistan in what was one of the bigger mismatches in the tournament history. I expect that trend to continue here and see plenty of value in taking over 316.5 runs in this one.
Apart from that match which featured Hong Kong all of the games in the above run sailed over this line and on this Sharjah ground which we know is pretty small I’m expecting the runs to flow again especially with the dew making such an impact in this tournament. If the first innings score is 158 and it gets chased down we win on the over so we don’t even need a particularly high scoring game. There is enough in these two batting units to get us beyond 316.5 runs.
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