DUBAI: Pakistan will take on Hong Kong in the last fixture of Group-A in the Asia Cup today for a place in the Super 4s at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
Given the recent form of Hong Kong, it will not be a walk in the park for the Pakistani team. Hong Kong has recently been in a rich vein of form, winning the qualifying tournament and remaining unbeaten.
They ran India close in the previous edition of the tournament, and the last thing Pakistan would want to do is write them off. Hong Kong will also be aware of the fact that Pakistan is yet to register a T20I win this year.
Pakistan has played two T20Is this year, facing defeat in both of them. The first came against Australia while the second defeat was handed to them by the men in blue in their first match of the Asia Cup.
The Pakistani side will once again look at their dependable opening pair of Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan to give them a solid start and for power hitters like Asif Ali and Khushdil Shah to go ballistic at the end.
In their last match against India, it was the batting that faltered, giving the team a sub-par total to defend. The bowlers were brilliant in the match, taking wickets at crucial junctures, keeping them in the game.
The pace department of the Pakistani team might miss the services of Naseem Shah over his fitness. Mohammad Hasnain could be slotted in his place for a like-to-like replacement.
Hong Kong on the other hand will not take the loss against India as a major heartbreak, as they did take away a lot of positives from the game. The bowlers were on their mark before Suryakumar just exploded at the end and helped India reach a mammoth total. Their batters showed promise, especially Babur Hayat who top-scored with 41 taking on the Indian bowlers.
The players to watch out for in the game would be the batting duo of Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, as well as Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz who were great with the ball against India. For Hong Kong, Babur Hayat has been scoring at a great strike rate of late and the team will rely on him for quick runs.
Their bowling mainstay Ehsan Khan was impressive against India, dishing out yorkers at will in the death. The weather is expected to be hot as is the norm in Sharjah.
Sharjah's pitch has been known to offer assistance to the slower ballers but the smaller dimensions of the ground might work in the favour of the batsman.