Former Indian cricketer Aakash Chopra believes Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi will hold back star spinner Rashid Khan for the middle overs against Pakistan in their Asia Cup encounter on Wednesday.
Pakistan have a top-heavy batting line-up with the likes of Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan and many might argue that Rashid must be brought early into the powerplay to break Pakistan's foundation.
However, speaking to Star Sports ahead of Match 10, Aakash Chopra explained why Rashid is perhaps needed for the middle overs and probably even at the death:
“Nabi might think about Rashid Khan and then might end up resisting the temptation, because Rashid’s numbers during the powerplay overs aren’t very flattering. Secondly, you already have a different role for Rashid, almost set in stone, that you have to bowl the middle overs, maybe an over in the back five because what you are up against is a very quality batting line-up."
He further added:
"So, it’s not just about the top three, Khushdil is in form, Nawaz scores runs, Asif really hasn’t failed in a run chase. So, you know this team has got the power. Yes mercurial, but Rashid has a very different role to play.”
Aakash Chopra believes Pakistan will rely more on their spinners
Afghanistan have a couple of explosive left-handers in Hazratullah Zazai and Najibullah Zadran who can take on the Pakistan spinners Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz.
However, Aakash Chopra feels they do have an off-spinning option in Iftikhar Ahmed who can be handy in such a situation. On this, he stated:
“If Hazratullah Zazai is there for a little longer, if Najibullah Zadran comes in a little early, then they have the option of going to Iftikhar and asking him to bowl his over. He is someone who will give you a few overs of off-spin, so they do have the option."
Chopra also spoke about the importance of Pakistan backing their strength, which is fast bowling:
"Of course, the pitch is not suited for faster bowlers, but then Madhushanka got two wickets, so you can still go in and do your thing. At least be economical, so that the bulk of your wickets is taken by the two spinners. So, Pakistan, even though they have only two spinners, still have a very potent attack.”
Indian fans will be hoping that Afghanistan beat Pakistan, else the Men in Blue will be knocked out of the Asia Cup on Wednesday night itself.