Pakistan have announced their playing XI for the Asia Cup 2023 opener against Nepal which will be played on August 30, Wednesday in Multan. This will be first of the four matches to be played in Pakistan as the tournament is being co-hosted by Sri Lanka as well.
Meanwhile, the no.1 ranked ODI team Pakistan has gone full strength against minnows Nepal to ensure a strong start to their Asia Cup campaign.
The batting sees Imam Ul Haq opening with Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam coming in at no.3. They will be followed by Mohammad Rizwan at no.4, along with Iftikhar Ahmed, Salman Ali Agha and Shadab Khan.
They have picked Mohammad Nawaz as well to add depth to their batting unit.
Pakistan has gone with Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, and Naseem Shah as the three frontline pacers.
Meanwhile, Pakistan captain Babar Azam shared his thoughts about his country not hosting the Asia Cup in full, despite them initially being the sole host.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had the full hosting rights for the Asia Cup but the Asian Cricket Council headed by Jay Shah opted for the 'hybrid model' suggested by Najam Sethi, where Sri Lanka became the co-hosts after it was clear that Indian cricket team won't travel to Pakistan.
"If you ask me, it would have been good if the whole tournament would have been held in Pakistan but unfortunately nothing can be done about it,” Babar said at the pre-tournament media conference.
Pakistan starts on Wednesday (Aug 30) against Nepal in Multan and then flies to Sri Lanka the very next day for the big-ticket clash against India at Pallekele on September 2.
Within 24 hours (September 3), they are likely to be back in Lahore for their Super Four game on September 6 and might fly back to Sri Lanka, the next day for the next game on September 9.
"As professionals, we are ready for any schedule that is given to us. There would be traveling as well as back-to-back games and we are ready for that. Our coaches and support staff have chalked out plans about how much we would utilize each player and also we have booked our flights in such a manner, that our traveling schedule gives enough time to rest," the skipper said.
Furthermore, Babar kept his team’s plans against India under cover but expected his team to put up the best show possible.
"We want to continue with this momentum. Pakistan's match against India will be a high-intensity game and we want to play our best cricket on the given day.
I needed to take the team to a different level and change my mindset. Now, we have at least 3-4 players in the top-10 and when you set a standard, there will be expectations and you have to fulfill those expectations. Performances should be such that the team wins," he added.
Pakistan playing XI for Asia Cup 2023 match against Nepal:
Babar Azam (c), Fakhar Zaman, Imam ul Haq, Mohammad Rizwan (WK), Iftikhar Ahmed, Salman Agha, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf