Pakistan head coach Saqlain Mushtaq believes his side’s five-wicket victory over India in the Asia Cup 2022 Super Four match on Sunday lifted his side’s morale ahead of the crucial match against a strong Afghanistan side on Wednesday.
In a chase of 182, Pakistan’s decision to promote Mohammad Nawaz to number four to counter India’s leg-spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravi Bishnoi paid off when he struck a game-changing 42 off 20 balls.
With Mohammad Rizwan making 71 off 51 balls apart from finishing touches by Asif Ali, Khushdil Shah and Iftikhar Ahmed, Pakistan managed to record their highest successful run-chase in T20Is against India. A win against Afghanistan at the Sharjah Cricket Ground will take Pakistan into the final of Asia Cup 2022.
“The win against India has certainly lifted the morale of the team and brought to light the depth of our batting unit. T20 cricket is all about tactful manoeuvring and we have the requisite individuals to make this happen at any phase of the innings.”
“Mohammad Nawaz is a utility player and we all knew he had what it takes to deliver in pressure situations. But it is just extraordinary how this youngster went in and took the game away from India in a matter of a few overs,” said Mushtaq to PCB Digital ahead of the match against Afghanistan.
Pakistan have faced off twice against Afghanistan in the format, with the Babar Azam-led side coming out victorious both times. Mushtaq reckons that batters need to spend more time at the crease on a slow Sharjah pitch to get runs consistently.
“Afghanistan are a good side and they have shown that from time to time, but we are confident to get a hat-trick of victories on Wednesday. The conditions in Sharjah will be suitable for spinners, but if a batter spends enough time in the middle, there will be a lot of runs on offer in the latter part of the innings with shorter boundaries.”
Talking further about positives for Pakistan from win over India on Sunday, Mushtaq heaped praise on Nawaz’s left-arm spin and leg-spinner Shadab Khan putting India in check apart from pacers supporting them despite no Shaheen Shah Afridi and Shahnawaz Dahani.
“What Shadab Khan and Nawaz did for us in the middle overs was absolute gold. They put on the shackles and got us wickets regularly which had a huge impact on the total. It was because of these middle overs that we were able to restrict India to 181 for seven.”
“Haris Rauf bowled with exceptional skill in the last over, denying a batter of Virat Kohli’s calibre any room and keeping him glued to his crease with immaculate yorkers. If you see, we now have a well-rounded bowling attack: Naseem Shah and Shahnawaz Dahani are brilliant with the new ball.”
“Our spinners are a threat to any side in the middle overs and Haris Rauf is a class act in the death. Add Shaheen Afridi to the equation and we have a bowling line-up, which will send chills down the spine of any batter in the opposition camp.”