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|Mujib Ur Rahman||10.0||2||33||2||3.30|
The first half of the Asia Cup 2018 is done and dusted and we have the four teams who will be featuring in the super four stage. The next round begins from 21st September with Pakistan set to take on Afghanistan at Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi. Pakistan finished second in the Group A, thanks to their recent loss to India whereas Afghanistan looked in a favorable position in their match against Bangladesh at the time of the writing. Unlike a couple of last group games, the matches in super four stage will be of significant importance as the top two teams will qualify for the final. With the stakes involved and considering the brand of cricket, the two teams have played over the last few days, it promises to be a thrilling contest of cricket.
Pakistan started off in the tournament in a flying fashion as they handed a spirited Hong Kong side a clinical 8-wicket defeat. However, they did not have such fate in their subsequent game where they were mercilessly hammered by men in blue in a low scoring encounter.
Batting first on a decent batting wicket in Dubai, Pakistan had poorest of starts as accurate bowling by Bhuvneshwar Kumar removed both their openers quickly. While the Indian bowlers were brilliant with their approach, they were helped massively by Pakistan's irresponsible show with the bat. Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed and Imam ul Haq played reckless shots which led to their dismissal.
After India managed to sneak in with two early breakthroughs, Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik got Pakistan back in the game with an important partnership which looked good till they lasted. Their departure brought a collapse from which the men in gree could not recover and eventually folded for 162.
With just 162 runs to defend, there's nothing much the Pakistani bowlers could have done and the start Indians had with the bat pushed them further away from coming into the match. The bowlers bowled with heart in the initial few overs, but they too were taken for runs by Indian openers once the bowlers stopped getting assistance from the surface.
Imam-ul-Haq, F Zaman, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed, Asif Ali, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Nawaz, Hasan Ali, Usman Khan, Shaheen Afridi.
Unlike Pakistan, Afghanistan were fluent in their road to the super four round. After crashing Sri Lanka out of the competition in their first match, Afghanistan registered yet another convincing win against Bangladesh.
Much of the credit of their two wins go to their excellent battery of spinners comprising of Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, and Mujeeb Ur Rahman. Aftab Alam, and Gulbadin Naib, their quick bowlers, have also played their parts to perfection and have been impressive under the lights.
Although their top-order has appeared to be in shambles on both occasions in the current tournament, they've somehow managed to bail themselves out of trouble. It was Rahmat Shah who played an impactful innings against Sri Lanka while Gulbadin Naib and Rashid Khan pushed their score in excess of 250 against Bangladesh. Considering what we've seen in their last two games, their top-order will have to a lot of work to do against the lethal Pakistani bowling lineup for them to repeat what they've done in the past couple of games.
M Shahzad, Ihsanullah, R Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Asghar Stanikzai, Mohammad Nabi, N Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan, Aftab Alam, Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
With surface likely to get slower as the game progresses and assistance for seamers likely to be on offer for the pace bowlers under lights, expect the team winning the toss to bat first.
Read our guide on toss predictions to learn how we analyze and come up with our tips.
The weather at Abu Dhabi isn't expected to be a lot different as compared to what it was like in Dubai. The temperature is likely to be upwards of 40 degrees and it will be like an oven at the ground. With the sun beating down on the surface, there will be some assistance for the spinners at the dry Abu Dhabi wicket. Despite the dew factor, anything over 260 will be a good score batting first.
While both the teams depend heavily on their respective bowling attacks, they have a striking dissimilarity. Pakistan's bowling attack is largely dependent on the battery of their speedsters whereas the Afghans will rely on the mystery and variations of their spinners. Batting usually plays a big role where the teams are bowling heavy and it isn't expected to be any different this time as well. Although the Afghans have done tremendously well over the course of the tournament, Pakistan have had an impressive run since their Champions Trophy win. A loss against India could very well act as a wake-up call for them and we believe that Pakistan are better equipped to win the upcoming fixture at Abu Dhabi.