Into the final

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Team Pakistan has reached the Asia Cup Cricket final, beating India and Afghanistan in the Super Four stage of the tournament. They say there is a thin line dividing success and failure, and the same was evident in both the games that the Greenshirts won on way to setting up a final fight with a rejuvenated Sri Lankan side in Dubai on coming Sunday.

That Lady Luck did indeed smile on Babar Eleven goes without saying. The game against India last Sunday saw fortunes fluctuating all through, to finally rest with Pakistan. And had that not been for Asif Ali’s dropped catch in the 18th over, the result would have been different. Asif grabbed the opportunity with both hands and, along with Iftikhar Ahmed, scored 19 runs off the 19th over to bring Pakistan within the reach of the target. And against Afghanistan on Wednesday, it was a fit case of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Number 10 player, pacer Naseem Shah, pulled off a historic feat hitting sixes off the first two balls of the final over when the team needed 11 off 6 balls with the last pair standing.

While Team Pakistan did well in the bowling department even in the absence of Shaheen Shah Afridi, both the Super Four games exposed a lack of quality in its batting department, precisely in the middle order. With skipper Babar Azam out of form and Muhammad Rizwan being the only one to have stayed at the wicket for long in the tournament, there is need for Fakhar Zaman, Khushdil Shah and Iftikhar Ahmed to realise their responsibility. Pakistan team management is well advised to try Haider Ali in the upcoming Super Four game against Sri Lanka, which has been reduced to a kind of warm-up game, given that both teams have already qualified for the final. An Asia Cup victory for Pakistan would be a great morale booster for Team Pakistan before the ICC T20 World Cup starting in Australia next month.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 9th, 2022.

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