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5 reasons why Pakistan can win the 2018 Asia Cup
- Updated: September 8, 2018
The 2018 Asia Cup is just a week away and most of the teams have already started their preparations for the tournament. This year's edition will be played in the ODI format after the previous edition was played in the T20I format. As many as six teams including India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Hong Kong have qualified for the tournament that will get underway in Dubai on September 15.
Among the six teams, it will be a wise move if you put your money on Pakistan as this is the perfect opportunity for the Men in Green to go all the way in Asia's premier ODI tournament. Let us take a look at five reasons why Pakistan can win the 2018 Asia Cup.
#5 Pre-tournament favourites
Going into the tournament, Pakistan will fancy their chances of winning as they are the pre-tournament favourites. In all likelihood, it is going to be either India or Pakistan who will go all the way and win the tournament.
Pakistan's chances of winning the tournament increased after India rested their skipper Virat Kohli for the tournament. Kohli has been a thorn in the flesh for Pakistan as he has made them pay whenever he faced them, barring the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy final, and helped his team win the contest.
Adding to that, Pakistan's history in the Asia Cup of late has been quite good and Sarfaraz Ahmed and co. have been playing some exceptional brand of cricket over the last year or so. The tournament being played in their adopted home makes them favourites going into the tournament.
#4 The best fast bowling unit
The left-arm pace bowling quartet of Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan, Shaheen Khan Afridi and Usman Khan Shinwari, along with right-arm pacer Hassan Ali, without a fraction of doubt, Pakistan have the best fast-bowling line-up in the tournament.
Amir's swing with the new ball makes his one of the best new ball bowlers going around at the moment as he can trouble the batsmen on a consistent basis. Adding to this, Amir is capable of generating some reverse swing with the old ball and has some good variations up his sleeves for the death overs.
Shinwari, who is expected to share the new ball with Amir, is a fantastic new ball bowler and can trouble the batsmen with his swing. Hassan Ali, on the other hand, is easily one of the best death bowlers in the world and can be a force to reckon with in the latter half of the innings.
#3 Presence of three world-class all-rounders
One of the common thing in all the world-class teams is the presence of at least one proper all-rounder who can win matches with both and bat on a consistent basis. The Indian team has been searching for one such player since the retirement of Kapil Dev and have found Hardik Pandya, who is still a bit raw.
Pakistan, on the other hand, have as many as three world-class all-rounders. Shadab Khan can win matches on his own with his leg spin and with the bat, he has often contributed with some crucial knocks. Faheem Ashraf is one of the players to watch out for as his big hitting towards the end will give Pakistan some extra runs in their innings and he is a reliable pace bowler as well.
Apart from these two, who will be featuring in the playing XI regularly, Pakistan also have Mohammad Nawaz, who has done well whenever he got a chance for his team and Shoaib Malik, who can chip in with his offies when needed.
#2 Lethal opening combination
Without a doubt, the best opening combination in the Asia Cup has to be the Indian opening duo of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan as both the batsmen have won a lot of matches for their team, both as individuals and as a pair. But, Pakistani opening combination of Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman won't be far behind as the duo has been in a league of their own of late.
Fakhar, after his heroics in the Champions Trophy, has become Pakistan's most consistent batsman in this format as he has been scoring runs for fun. Recently, he reached his 1000 ODI runs in no time and registered the first-ever double century by a Pakistani batsman in ODIs.
While Fakhar is the aggressor, he has a calm head like Imam as his opening partner. Imam, the nephew of Pakistani great Inzamam, is an old-school ODI opener, who likes to get his eye in initially before going for the shots. Both Fakhar and Imam complement each other well and they are very crucial for Pakistan in the Champions Trophy.
#1 Local knowledge
The home conditions will come in handy for any cricket team irrespective of the format. The 2018 Asia Cup was supposed to take place in India but because of the political tensions between India and Pakistan, the tournament was moved to the United Arab Emirates.
Though UAE failed to qualify for the tournament, the home advantage will be on offer during the Asia Cup as UAE has been the adopted home of the Pakistan Cricket team for a while now and they have been playing cricket regularly in the middle-east and the players will be familiar with the conditions in that part of the world.
Interestingly, the whole Indian team has played a combined total of just two ODIs in UAE, thanks to MS Dhoni's presence in the two-match ODI series between both the teams in UAE in 2006