Final prep as Pakistan face Afghans



KARACHI:

Pakistan will play their second warm-up against Afghanistan on Wednesday, after losing their first match against England by six wickets on Monday.

Pakistan, fresh from the tri-series victory over New Zealand and Bangladesh, will be eyeing victory in order to prepare for the October 23 blockbuster match against arch-rivals India.

Pakistan have played 19 T20Is before taking on Afghanistan in the second warm-up, six in Asia Cup, seven in the home series against England, five in the tri-series in New Zealand and one warm-up against England.

Even after so many contests where Pakistan had the chance to experiment and come up with a solid batting line-up, the Men in Green were seen confused who to play where when they fielded an eleven against England.

The usual openers, captain Babar and keeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan didn’t come to bat for Pakistan, while Shan Masood and Haider Ali were asked to open the innings.

It may be considered a ploy to give the middle-order some good batting time in the middle before the T20 World Cup Super 12 round starts, but a defeat in the match may have dented Pakistan’s confidence too.

Also, resting their in-form, on-fire openers may result in loss of form for the duo, who are supposed to score the bulk of the runs for Pakistan at the top of the order.

However, a shining light for the Pakistani bowling attack was the return of left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi, who bowled two overs for only seven runs against England.

With right-arm pacer Haris Rauf already in the form of his life, Shaheen’s good returns after coming back from injury is a positive sign for Babar’s charges.

The last time Pakistan and Afghanistan met, it was fireworks on the field as Pakistan had to go deep into the last over before tail-ender Naseem Shah hit two sixes to seal the win for the Men in Green.

An on-field scuffle between Pakistani and Afghan players, while retaliation from Afghan fans in the stands after the loss took the shine away from the otherwise spectacular cricketing contest.

This time around, it may be a dead rubber between Pakistan and Afghanistan in the T20 World Cup warm-up, but cut-throat cricket can be expected from the word go.





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