Asia Cup 2018: 3 Changes Pakistan needs to make to get back on track
Pakistan began their Asia Cup with a bang! The team faced the minnows Hong Kong in their first match and beat them convincingly. Hong Kong was clueless and got folded out for 116 by Pakistan’s young bowling attack, while the batsmen chased down the target with ease in just 24 overs.
Hong Kong then pulled up their boots and gave their best performance ever against India, almost beating them in their first encounter. They scored over 90% of the target set by India, falling just 26 runs short.
In the other group, we saw huge upsets as Bangladesh first beat the group favorites, Sri Lanka. Then Sri Lanka faced the relatively new Afghanistan side and suffered a shock defeat at their hands too. Thus, Sri Lanka became the first team to be knocked out of the tournament.
These matches were followed by last night’s clash between Pakistan and India. The overly hyped match was considered a rematch of the Champions Trophy 2017 final, and huge fireworks were expected from both the sides.
Instead, we only saw fireworks from a Kohli-less Indian side, while Pakistan seemed to play like the Hong Kong side they faced in their opening game. After suffering a massive defeat at the hands of their arch-rivals, Pakistan now needs to make quite a few changes to their team and their attitudes if they plan to succeed in the matches to come and reach the final of the tournament.
#3 Push Sarfraz Ahmed down the order
Sarfraz Ahmed has been almost unnoticeable with the bat in recent months. This is not because other batsmen are performing more regularly, but because Sarfraz himself is not performing much at all.
He has been coming out to bat at number 4 and 5 more often now since a newer squad has come into being. More often than not, he has failed to deliver on both these positions. Currently, Pakistan has a lower-middle order that is lined up with younger and more inexperienced players.
Sarfraz needs to demote himself to No. 6 or 7 between Faheem Ashraf and Shadab and promote either Faheem or Asif Ali to his current position. This can provide Pakistan a middle-order scoring boost because both men have above-average strike rates and are clean strikers of the ball.
In case of a collapse, Sarfraz can help guide the lower order and tail-enders. His experience and relatively calmer head can make a difference to the team’s development.