Former Indian leg-spinner Laxman Sivaramakrishnan has named his trump card for the Asia Cup 2018 and has also warned that a team like Hong Kong cannot be taken lightly.
In his column for the Times of India, Sivaramakrishnan wrote, "After a one-off dalliance with the 20-over version in Bangladesh two years back, the Asia Cup reverts to the 50-over format as subcontinental sides begin the final phase of preparation for the World Cup in England and Wales next summer. The five Test-playing nations have been joined by Hong Kong, who muscled their way through from the qualifiers, in the continent's showpiece event. While Hong Kong might appear as the weakest link in the competition, the one lesson that cricket has repeatedly taught is that nothing can be taken for granted."
"Hong Kong's gradual progression as a 50-over side from merely being the celebrated hosts of the Hong Kong Sixes is a tribute to the systems in place there. Their reward for qualifying ahead of UAE, Nepal, and Oman, is being clubbed alongside Pakistan and India, and it will be interesting to see how they turn up against the big sides. They will kick off their campaign against Pakistan in Dubai on Sunday, determined to prove that they belong among the big boys. If they can be mentally strong, showcase their potential and compete well, it will give them a lot of confidence going forward. I expect Hong Kong's campaign to revolve around their three heroes from the qualifiers - paceman Nadeem Ahmed, off-spinner Ehsan Khan and batsman Anshuman Rath," Sivaramakrishnan added.
However, Sivaramakrishnan named Pakistani leg-spinner Shadab Khan as the trump card of the tournament.
"Pakistan are a mercurial and explosive side. The defending ICC Champions Trophy winners have invested heavily in youth and I can't wait to see the likes of Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam continue to light up the stage with their sparkling batting. Historically, Pakistan have had a strong bowling attack, and it's no different this time around. Mohammad Amir bowls well with the new ball and is dangerous with the old, while I will follow the exploits of leggie Shadab Khan with obvious interest. He could be the trump card for Pakistan as the tournament progresses," Sivaramakrishnan signed off.
(with inputs from Times of India)