Pakistan’s likely playing XI for first ODI against Afghanistan

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Pakistan are all set to take on Afghanistan in the first ODI of the three-match series, starting tomorrow in Hambantota.

Pakistan have named an 18-member squad for the aforementioned series and the squad will be later trimmed to 17-member squad for the Asia Cup after the conclusion of the ODI series against Afghanistan.

With a settled line-up, Pakistan is unlikely to do any experiments in the first ODI of the series.

At the top of the batting order, Pakistan will have its regular openers Fakhar Zaman and Imam ul Haq. Fakhar, who emerged as the highest run-scorer for Pakistan in their most recent ODI against New Zealand earlier this year, aims to extend his impressive performance in ODIs.

Leading the team, Babar Azam, will assume his customary position at number three. He will be determined to uphold his status as the top-ranked ODI batsman in the world.

Taking the number four batting spot will be Mohammad Rizwan, who has solidified his ODI credentials by maintaining an impressive batting average of 68.60 this year.

The fifth and sixth positions will be occupied by Salman Agha and Iftikhar Ahmed, respectively. Salman Agha has exhibited a noteworthy average of 48 and a healthy strike rate of 108 in his ten ODIs. His recent performances include consecutive fifties against New Zealand. Meanwhile, Iftikhar Ahmed, known for his impactful late-order batting, along with Agha, can contribute significantly to Pakistan’s strong finishes in ODIs. Iftikhar’s memorable 72-ball 94, featuring eight fours and two sixes, during a chase against New Zealand demonstrated his capability to turn the tide of a match.

In light of the spinning conditions in Hambantota, Pakistan is likely to opt for their spin-bowling all-rounders Shadab Khan and Usama. Despite Mohammad Nawaz providing an option of variety with his left-arm spin, Usama Mir impressive form will be hard to ignore for Pakistan’s team management. On top of that, Mir has taken six wickets in his last two ODIs, which includes his best figures of 4/43 against New Zealand in Karachi earlier this year.

The final three slots in the lineup will feature the dynamic fast-bowling trio of Haris Rauf, Shaheen Shah Afridi, and Naseem Shah, known for their fiery pace and ability to unsettle batters.

Pakistan’s expected playing XI:

Fakhar Zaman, Imam ul Haq, Babar Azam (C), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Agha Salman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Usama Mir, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf

Pakistan squad for Afghanistan series:

Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam (captain), Salman Ali Agha, Iftikhar Ahmed, Tayyab Tahir, Saud Shakeel, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Haris, Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Mohammad Nawaz, Usama Mir, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Afridi

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