Asia Cup 2018: Afghanistan has the strongest bowling attack, says Pakistan's Shan Masood

Denzil Pinto 20/09/2018
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Rashid Khan (r) has picked up eight wickets so far

Shan Masood has described Afghanistan’s bowling attack as the strongest in the Asia Cup and insists Pakistan will not take them lightly ahead of their Super Four match on Friday.

The two nations make the long trip from Dubai to Abu Dhabi as they look to begin the stage on a winning note after qualifying from their respective group.

Former champions Pakistan will be aiming to prove Wednesday’s eight-wicket loss to India was just a blip as they look to keep their dream of securing a third Asian title alive. However, they face a tough task against an Afghanistan side who eliminated five-time winners Sri Lanka on Monday. And batsman Masood admits his team will have to be at the top of their game to stop Rashid Khan and Co.

“I think if you see the bowling attack, especially spinners, then Afghanistan has the best unit in the tournament,” said the 28-year-old on Thursday.

Pakistan look to get back to winning ways after India loss

Pakistan look to get back to winning ways after India loss

“In UAE conditions, they have played as much cricket here as we have played. We will not take them lightly at all, especially after how they beat a good team like Sri Lanka. Afghanistan is a very good opposition and our aim is to focus on our strengths while negating theirs.”

While Pakistan will have a day’s rest, Afghanistan will be playing back-to-back matches following their clash against Bangladesh on Thursday evening.

And Masood insists the extra time off will be a big advantage to his side.

“Recovery is very important especially when you play day-night games,” he added. “We had optional practice and we focused on our skills and we will be a fresh unit and hopefully win against Afghanistan.”

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Mohammad Azharuddin and Wasim Akram announced as directors of T10 League's Talent Hunt

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Pakistan legend Wasim Akram at the announcement.

T10 League have announced the appointment of Mohammad Azharuddin, Wasim Akram and Vijay Dutt Vyas to lead the global talent hunt to spearhead the 10-over format.

Vijay Dutt Vyas, owner of the Rajputs team has been appointed the Global Director for T10 League Talent Hunt. The T10 League also appointed former Pakistan cricket captain Akram as Director T10 League Talent Hunt for Pakistan and former India skipper Azharuddin as their Director T10 League Talent Hunt for India.

Welcoming the two cricketing legends, Nawab Shaji Ul Mulk, chairman of the T10 League, said: “The appointment of Mohammad Azharuddin and Wasim Akram are the beginning of a new journey for the global T10 cricket movement and we are very excited to make the announcement today.

“The global talent hunt is designed to unearth the unsung heros from the cricketing world, especially India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who do not get the opportunity to play cricket and the exposure that they deserve.

“This programme will help the talent not only to get a job in the UAE and be able to display their cricketing skills at international level. The Emirates Cricket Board is part of this programme and the good top-class cricketers will have a chance to play for the UAE national team.

“Following today’s announcement, we will soon appoint T10 Talent Hunt Directors for Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to strengthen the global talent hunt.”

Wasim Akram and the other dignitaries at the press conference.

Wasim Akram and the other dignitaries at the press conference.

Eight teams – Kerala Kings, Punjab Legends, Maratha Arabians, Bengal Tigers, The Karachians, Rajputs, Northern Warriors and Pakhtoons – have been drawn in to two groups to fight it out in the second edition. This will take place from November 23 to December 2 at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

T10 League was launched last year by T10 Sports Management to popularise the game of cricket in its shortest format – that concludes within less than 90 minutes in which two teams bat it out in ten overs – or just 60 balls – thrilling the crowd.

Preparation for the Second Season of the T10 League started following the runaway success with sold-out stadium during all the four days of the first Season that drew full-gallery crowd at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium and watched by cheering fans across the GCC, South Asia and parts of the African continent where cricket is a popular sport.

A number of Bollywood and Lollywood celebrities from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will add festive flavour to the ten-day tournament to be watched live in more than 20 countries across the world.

The T10 Talent Hunt promises to be an exciting project.

The T10 Talent Hunt promises to be an exciting project.

“The Second Season of the T10 League is boosted by the formal recognition of the International Cricket Council and the interest shown by the stakeholders that encourages us to take the tournament to whole new level this year and cricketing fans can expect some fireworks during the 10-day extravaganza,” added Ul Mulk.

“We have now set up a central secretariat and revamped organisational structure to organise the T10 League that will match the fanfare seen only at global sporting events. All I can say that a lot of surprises are waiting for the cricket-lovers worldwide.

“This year’s T10 League will help expand and popularise the game of cricket further. We see this as a growing movement and I urge all to join this and help take the game further.”

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Asia Cup 2018: Pakistan batsmen look to bounce back against Afghanistan

Denzil Pinto 20/09/2018
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Sarfraz Ahmed was one of the players criticised by Mickey Arthur.

The Asia Cup reaches the business end of the tournament with the Super Four stage beginning on Friday.

Pakistan, who were beaten by India on Wednesday, have a chance to redeem themselves when they take on Afghanistan in the opening game at Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Stadium.

Ahead of the game, we look at the talking points:

WILL PAKISTAN BATSMEN RESPOND AFTER MICKEY ARTHUR’S STRONG WORDS?

The South African didn’t hold back during Wednesday’s post-match press conference when he criticised the batsmen after they were bowled out for 162. In particular, young opener Imam-Ul-Haq and captain Sarfraz Ahmed came in the firing line.

“We sorted of batted outside our roles, which was very disappointing,” he said. “Imam Ul-Haq – it’s not his role to be running down to Bhuvenshwar Kumar in the third over. It’s not Sarfraz’s role to be hitting over the top and getting caught out there. We’ve got X-Factor guys whose role it is to do that.

“If Fakhar Zaman gets out playing that, it’s okay. If Asif Ali gets out like that, it’s okay because that’s his role. But the other four batsmen certainly need to take responsibility.”

No surprise then that Pakistan were back in the nets at the ICC Academy even though it was optional on Thursday evening. Sarfraz and Fakhar Zaman were among the batsmen to spend time in the scorching heat.

Pakistan arrived in the UAE buoyed by a 5-0 ODI series whitewash against Zimbabwe but there were always question marks whether they would be able to pile on the runs against stronger opposition.

On Wednesday, we found out the answer to that question. They rather gifted the wickets to India  with some poor shot selection rather than letting Rohit Sharma’s side earn it.

Fortunately the India defeat didn’t have too much riding on the result considering both teams had already qualified but more performances like these with the bat and they can say goodbye to lifting the trophy on September 28.

BACK-TO-BACK GAMES FOR AFGHANISTAN

The Afghans will go into the fixture with a lack of rest following their final pool game against Bangladesh on Thursday. Despite it being a dead rubber, Phil Simmons decided on making just one change with Samiullah Shenwari coming for Najibullah Zadran. It means his players will have to recover fast when they face Pakistan. Given that Afghanistan will have to make a 90-minute trip back to their team hotel in Dubai from Abu Dhabi and again to the UAE capital for Friday’s fixture is another headache which they must overcome.

That could work well give Pakistan the advantage especially as they had a full day’s rest while some of their players only took to the field for an optional training session.

LIKELY LINE-UPS

Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (C), Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Junaid Khan, Hasan Ali, Usman Khan

Afghanistan: Asghar Afghan (C), Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Ihsanullah Janat, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan, Aftab Alam, Mujeeb Ur Rahman

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