Afghanistan vs Pakistan ODI series seen as ‘good preparation’ for Asia Cup

Photo by Afghanistan’s Cricket Board

Afghanistan will face Pakistan on Tuesday at the start of the three-match ODI series in Sri Lanka, which comes just days ahead of the Asia Cup tournament scheduled for later this month.

Both skippers see the ODI series against Pakistan as good preparation for the six-nation Asia Cup in Sri Lanka and Pakistan beginning August 30 and the World Cup in India from October 5.

This ODI series is a home series for Afghanistan who cannot stage international cricket in their own country.

While Pakistan has Babar Azam, the ICC’s top-ranked ODI batsman, Afghanistan’s spin wizard Rashid Khan is in the line up after being declared fit to play.

But Afghanistan will need to stay focused as Azam’s team also boasts openers Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq — ranked three and four on the ICC’s batsman rankings respectively.

Speaking to the media on Monday, Azam had only good things to say about Afghanistan. According to him, “Afghanistan have developed into a good side.” This after the team beat Bangladesh 2-1 in an ODI series last month.

“We are not going to take these matches lightly,” said Azam, despite Pakistan having won all four ODIs against Afghanistan since the countries first met in 2012.

“We have good players who can deal with spin bowling so it is going to be an exciting series.”

Afghanistan are captained by batsman Hashmatullah Shahidi and have new faces in fast bowlers Abdul Rahman, Mohammad Saleem Safi and Wafadar Momand.

Tuesday’s match is being played in Hambantota, with the remaining two in Colombo on Thursday and Saturday.

Pakistan: Babar Azam (capt), Shadab Khan, Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, Abdullah Shafique, Imam-ul-Haq, Saud Shakeel, Agha Salman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Usama Mir, Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Tayyab Tahir, Mohammad Haris, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Wasim

Afghanistan: Hashmatullah Shahidi (capt), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ikram Alikhil, Ibrahim Zadran, Riaz Hassan, Rahmat Shah, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Noor Ahmad, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Abdul Rahman, Mohammad Saleem Safi, Wafadar Momand