Pakistan team practice at ICC Academy for DP World Asian Cup 2022 on Thursday. Pakistan coach Saqlain Mushtaq is confident of a brilliant show in the event. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Pakistan coach Saqlain Mushtaq has reposed immense faith on his team’s bowling strength on Thursday,  ahead of the Asia Cup opener against India on Sunday.

Pakistan had lost ace left-arm pacer Shaheen Afridi due to injury and the former Pakistan spinner feels that they have the ability to strike with his bowling unit.

“Since last few years, these three — Naseem Shah, Mohammad Hasnain and Haris Rauf — have been executing the plans and demands of the Pakistan team really well. The captain, me as a head coach and the entire support staff has confidence in their abilities. Shaheen used to lead the attack, but these three also on a given day or situation can change the game,” said Mushtaq at a press conference. Mohammad Hasnain will replace left-arm pacer Afridi.

Meanwhile, batting coach Mohammed Yousuf said on Thursday that star batter Babar Azam is playing exceptional cricket at the moment, both as a player and captain of his side.

Azam has been in a fine form in 2022. He is the world’s leading batter in ODI and T20I formats while he is in the third spot in the Test rankings. Across all formats this year, Azam has played 15 matches and has scored 1,406 runs in 19 innings at an average of 78.11. His best individual score is 196. Five centuries and ten half-centuries have come out of his willow this year.

Sri Lankan team members training for the DP World Asian Cup at the ICC Cricket Academy on Thursday. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

“Babar Azam has been showing everyone for the past two-three years that he is a big player and performs even better in pressure situations. A player becomes big when he performs well under pressure. He is on a path towards becoming great in the game. The way he is batting in all formats, that too with the responsibility of captaincy, is an achievement. Even the team responds to him well. As a player and as a captain, he is playing exceptional cricket,” said Yousuf at a press conference.

Ahead of his team’s clash with Pakistan, the batting coach said that the team is not looking at that particular match only, but focusing on winning the Asia Cup.

Extremely good

India will start its campaign with a big contest against Pakistan on August 28.

Yousuf said that the practice session of Pakistani players was extremely good and players toiled hard despite the heat.

“It is hot and humid. But they are professionals. They practised really hard. Of course, they are humans, they will feel heat and weakness. But they are enjoying it,” he added.

Grabbing the opportunity

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s Bhanuka Rajapakse wants his team to grab the opportunity in the Asia Cup, hosted by Sri Lanka in UAE.

Rajapakse said: “It is a very good opportunity for all of us to clinch the title and hoping we can justify our presence here in the UAE. The conditions here are familiar to Sri Lanka, and a lot of the guys have played in leagues here so that is good. We are competing with good teams, and we are confident of going to the second round and playing against India and Pakistan. We have played them before. The experience I am bringing to the team having played in the IPL, will also bring good energy to the team.”

Chris Silverwood, Sri Lanka Head Coach: “My experience with Sri Lanka has been excellent and I have made to be very welcome, and the guys are very open-minded and willing to learn so as a coach I could not as for anything more.