Today’s Asia Cup double-header is sure to keep you busy as India takes on Bangladesh in Dubai, while 139 kilometers away Afghanistan face off against Pakistan at Abu Dhabi. The second game of this double-header could prove to be the most interesting, simply because Afghanistan comes into this contest unbeaten against a very good opponent in Pakistan. India is also looking to make it three wins from three games, and it’s looking very-likely after Bangladesh was pounded into the ground by Afghanistan in their last match.
Bangladesh V India
Finishing first with an undefeated record in group A of the Asia Cup in the U.A.E. this year, India advance to the super four stage full of confidence which spells trouble for the remaining three teams in the competition. Adding to India’s favouritism to take out this year’s trophy, the previous winners of the Asia Cup have been eliminated before the super four round which just about gifts them a spot in this year’s final. If everything goes to plan, it’s just a question of who’ll meet India in the 2018 Asia Cup final. After that dismal 136-run shellacking enforced by Afghanistan, it’s unclear where Bangladesh are at as a team in the tournament. That win against Sri Lanka looked to be a turning point for the Tigers, but the victory was short-lived as Afghanistan managed to repeat what Bangladesh did to Sri Lanka leaving them dazed and confused.
A commanding victory over their bitter-rivals Pakistan just about set the scene for the tournament. Avoiding a shock-defeat and pushing Pakistan to breaking point, India are looking the goods in this year’s Asia Cup in the U.A.E. The surface is playing to their advantage, not too dissimilar to the wickets back in India which are conducive for batting. There’s no doubting that India will now heavily target Bangladesh’s top order after what went down against Afghanistan the other day, they now have two top order batsmen that look extremely shaky which plays straight into Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s hands. Teammate & fellow fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah is expected to be “managed” during the Asia Cup, meaning his workload should be getting reduced significantly by either sitting out a game or short & sharp spells from either end. News coming through that three Indian players (Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel and Shardul Thakur) have been officially ruled out of the Asia Cup is a slight concern. That could mean Bumrah may be required despite the amount of cricket he’s played for the past couple of months. Deepak Chahar, Siddarth Kaul and Ravindra Jadeja have all been drafted into the Indian side. As for India’s batting, it’s working like a well-oiled machine at the moment. Openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan are looking to be aggressive at the top, and it’s been a successful approach so far. Dinesh Karthik is in the form of his life at the moment while Ambati Rayudu continues to impress in Kohli’s absence, Kedar Jadhav is also huge upside batting at No. 6. Everything points to India in this one.
After a strong showing against Sri Lanka, Bangladesh just about undid all their good work in their following match against Afghanistan which was a match to forget from their perspective. They’re now up against a side who are currently the white-hot favourites to win the 2018 Asia Cup, making it an extremely tough ask for the Tigers to produce a major upset. One of the only positives to take out of their previous match was the performance of star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan. If it wasn’t for Shakib’s 4/42 with the ball, Afghanistan probably would have scored in excess of 300 runs at the conclusion of their innings. The total was by no means un-gettable, in fact Bangladesh probably should have either just fell short or won this match. At the end of the day, the loss of Tamim Iqbal shook them up with two unfamiliar faces left to face the music against the new ball, and it didn’t end well at all. Both Liton Das and Iqbal’s replacement Nazmul Hossain Shanto looked indecisive at the crease which led to their quick downfalls, the rest was history. Adding to the carnage, Mominul Haque and Mohammad Mithun were knocked over for single-digits as the run chase turned into an epic struggle to survive. Shakib did his best to backup his four-wicket haul with a match-saving innings, but his teammates just collapsed around him leaving Bangladesh all but dead and buried. The decision to rest key-duo Mushfiqur Rahim and Mustafizur Rahman was a costly blow. Set to return against India, both Rahim and Rahman might be able to inject some life into a team that looked excessively-subdued against Afghanistan.
Top 5 fantasy picks | Bangladesh | Asia Cup super four | 1st match | Dubai
- Shakib Al Hasan
- Mushfiqur Rahim
- Mustafizur Rahman
- Rubel Hossain
Wildcard pick – Mosaddek Hossain
Top 5 fantasy picks | India | Asia Cup super four | 1st match | Dubai
- Rohit Sharma
- Bhuvneshwar Kumar
- Kuldeep Yadav
- Shikhar Dhawan
- Jasprit Bumrah
Wildcard pick – KL Rahul
Bangladesh (possible) – 1. Liton Das 2. Mominul Haque 3. Shakib Al Hasan 4. Mushfiqur Rahim (wk) 5. Mohammad Mithun 6. Mahmudullah 7. Mosaddek Hossain 8. Mehidy Hasan Miraz 9. Mashrafe Mortaza © 10. Mustafizur Rahman 11. Rubel Hossain.
India (possible) – 1. Rohit Sharma © 2. Shikhar Dhawan 3. Ambati Rayudu/KL Rahul 4. Dinesh Karthik/Manish Pandey 5. MS Dhoni (wk) 6. Kedar Jadhav 7. Ravindra Jadeja/Deepak Chahar/Khaleel Ahmed 8. Bhuvneshwar Kumar 9. Kuldeep Yadav 10. Yuzvendra Chahal 11. Jasprit Bumrah.
Afghanistan V Pakistan
It might be a longshot, but if Afghanistan could find a way to bring down Pakistan later today this tournament would just about be turned on its head. The Afghani’s are yet to lose a match in this year’s Asia Cup, but they now face a team who’s looking for redemption after going down to India by a substantial margin. Afghaistan flaunted their batting depth in their most recent win against Bangladesh where Gulbadin Naib and Rashid Khan put on a 95-run stand which proved to be too much for the opposition. It’s unlikely Pakistan will let Afghanistan’s tail wag like that again, they’ve got a good mix of bowlers who specialize in death bowling late in the match.
The dream of winning the Asia Cup is still well & truly alive for Afghanistan, they’re up against some highly-talented sides though who could prove difficult to budge. On the flip side, they now face Pakistan who are coming off a devastating loss to the Indians which could prove to be an ideal time to strike as the underdogs. The one thing Afghanistan can’t afford to do is malfunction in the batting department, if Pakistan make light work of them in that area the game is just about kaput. Wicketkeeper and aggressive-opening batsman Mohammad Shahzad has been solid in his first two Asia Cup outings, scores of 34 and 37 would suggest he’s building towards something big. They’ve probably got the most unpredictable batting line-up in this year’s super four, not one batsman is a certainty to perform, but at the same time every batsman has the potential to produce a half century out of thin air! Hashmatullah Shahidi and Rashid Khan are both prime examples of this, the pair managed to produce half centuries against Bangladesh which proved to be the difference at the end of the day. Interestingly enough, Afghanistan’s skipper Asghar Afghan is probably the most inconsistent of the lot averaging 21.27 as a specialist batsman in his ODI career. This team’s real strength is with the ball though. Led by the talented leg-spin of Rashid Khan, Afghanistan’s bowling attack has been one of the most efficient in this year’s Asia Cup. Teenage spinners Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman are becoming quite the dynamic duo for their country, they’ve collectively taken eight wickets in just two games and could ruffle some more feathers down the track.
A bounce back is desperately required in this match for Pakistan who would’ve been fuming after their performance against their biggest rivals in International cricket. After effortlessly chasing down Hong Kong’s target of 117 in the first game, Pakistan were caught in between a rock and a hard place after India wreaked havoc through their batting order leaving a trail of destruction. Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik’s third-wicket partnership consisting of 82 runs looked to have Pakistan back on track, but India quickly snuffed it out and ended any chance of a late resurgence. Pakistan could potentially make some changes to their middle order, although they might consider that both openers early exits in the middle might have exposed the rest of the line-up making it unfair to swing the axe. With that being said, all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz could be a potential candidate to come into the XI and slot into the middle or lower order. They also have Haris Sohail as an option to bat in the middle order, the 29-year-old averages 40+ in this format for Pakistan. Another decisive factor as to why they went down so easily against India would be the lack of impact their fast bowling unit had in the game. The troublesome-trio consisting of Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali and Usman Khan all went wicketless as India went on to chase down Pakistan’s target of 163 with relative ease. The coaching staff & team management will be expecting a vast improvement against Afghanistan from some of their key players in both the batting and bowling department. Afghanistan are going to throw everything they’ve got at Pakistan, there’s no room for error this time around.
Top 5 fantasy picks | Afghanistan | Asia Cup super four | 2nd match | Abu Dhabi
- Rashid Khan
- Rahmat Shah
- Mujeeb Ur Rahman
- Mohammad Shahzad
- Mohammad Nabi
Wildcard pick – Ihsanullah
Top 5 fantasy picks | Pakistan | Asia Cup super four | 2nd match | Abu Dhabi
- Hasan Ali
- Babar Azam
- Fakhar Zaman
- Usman Khan
Wildcard pick – Faheem Ashraf
Afghanistan (possible) – 1. Mohammad Shahzad (wk) 2. Ihsanullah 3. Rahmat Shah 4. Hashmatullah Shahidi 5. Asghar Afghan © 6. Samiullah Shenwari/Najibullah Zadran 7. Mohammad Nabi 8. Gulbadin Naib 9. Rashid Khan 10. Aftab Alam 11. Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
Pakistan (possible) – 1. Imam-ul-Haq 2. Fakhar Zaman 3. Babar Azam 4. Shoaib Malik 5. Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk) 6. Asif Ali/Mohammad Nawaz 7. Faheem Ashraf 8. Shadab Khan 9. Mohammad Amir/Junaid Khan 10. Hasan Ali 11. Usman Khan.
Zak Varik is an Australian columnist/writer who specializes in the sports category cricket. With over four years of experience covering all sorts of cricket tournaments around the world, Zak has gained extensive knowledge in International cricket as well as domestic.
“I’ve loved watching cricket since I was about 7 years old, my childhood hero was none other than Andrew “Roy” Symonds who probably enhanced my love of the game through the years”.
Zak is now an established writer for FCN (Fantasy Cricket News) and has also previously represented other Blogs during his time as a writer.