Pakistan v UAE, Asia Cup 2016, Mirpur February 28, 2016

Bowling-heavy teams duel for first points

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Match facts

Monday, February 29, 2016
Start time 1930 local (1330 GMT)

Play 01:11
'Amir is world-class' - Waqar

Big Picture

Pakistan arrived late from the PSL party, misread the threat in the Mirpur pitch and fell to a new low. Essentially they had come in to work hungover. UAE, on the other hand, have been at their desk for a while, but they seem to have forgotten something. All is well when they bowl, but when it is their turn to bat, they are left a little red-faced. Like the nervous new recruit who'd turned up at the office with a pristine shirt and no pants.

Shahid Afridi and Waqar Younis are aware of Pakistan's problems, though neither chose to lay blame. The pitches in the UAE had been slow but straightforward otherwise; spinners were the major threat and once they were handled, batting became simple enough. Not so in Bangladesh, where the new ball keeps zinging off a green pitch. Pakistan were still holding on against India until a couple of run-outs totally derailed them. If they can be a little more careful, runs are still on offer as the innings wears on.

Mohammad Amir's performance against India can't be called a revelation because he was always a freakish fast-bowling talent. But he could have lost that talent after five years in cricketing exile. The fact that he hasn't is cause for Pakistan to stay upbeat.

UAE captain Amjad Javed had expressed a hope that his own batsmen take inspiration from how his bowlers have set up matches for victory. Pakistan's batsmen should be thinking along similar lines. If they'd made 30 more runs than the 83 they had crumbled to on Saturday, who knows what could have happened?

It should help that Pakistan now play a lower-profile team than India. Minus the pressure, they can work on getting used to conditions and ticking the boxes that are required to win matches. UAE, at that point where they are here for the memories, will try their best to sneak in a few trick questions.

Form guide

Pakistan LLLWL (last five completed matches)
UAE LLWWW

Watch out for

Pakistan's batting needs a steady hand, more so considering they've got a few players in the top order who are still new to international cricket. Shoaib Malik can be the man to take up that responsibility. He is a former captain and he has played over 300 matches across formats for his country. He's also known to be partial towards singles and twos to begin with but can flex his muscles later on.

He has helped put UAE's results on the right track since taking over captaincy of the T20 team, so would it be too much to ask Amjad Javed to do the same to their batting? He is noted for his ability as a powerful ball-striker, but he has a century in first-class cricket, and a List A highest of 164 off 117 balls. For the T20 fan, he struck 76 off 42 balls against Scotland only three weeks ago. Maybe he should try batting up the order.

Team news

Four fast bowlers seems the best way forward for Pakistan, so Mohammad Nawaz may still be sidelined. Imad Wasim, although a left-arm spinner too, may not be excluded so easily considering he can be a handy middle-order batsman. Perhaps he might come into the XI in place of Khurram Manzoor.

Pakistan (probable): 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Sharjeel Khan, 3 Shoaib Malik, 4 Umar Akmal, 5 Imad Wasim, 6 Shahid Afridi (capt), 7 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 8 Wahab Riaz, 9 Mohammad Sami, 10 Mohammad Amir, 11 Mohammad Irfan

UAE have had major issues with their batting, as totals of 82 and 115 for 9 suggest, but there are not many options in their squad.

UAE (probable): 1 Rohan Mustafa, 2 Muhammad Kaleem, 3 Mohammad Shahzad, 4 Shaiman Anwar, 5 Mohammad Usman, 6 Amjad Javed (capt), 7 Swapnil Patil (wk), 8 Saqlain Haider, 9 Fahad Tariq, 10 Mohammad Naveed, 11 Ahmed Raza

Pitch and conditions

Oh, don't act like you've not loved the fast bowlers having a little fun. Mirpur has been sporting and good batsmen seem to like it too. Virat Kohli, last night, said Mohammad Amir's spell was the kind a batsman wants to play and prove himself with.

Stats and trivia

  • This will be the first time Pakistan and UAE face each other in T20 internationals. They have played three ODIs before in 1994, 1996 and 2015
  • Afridi has 66 sixes from 85 T20I innings. Three more can take him up to fourth place on the all-time list, beating David Warner's 67 and Martin Guptill's 68

Quotes

"When we expect our players to do well, it's frankly at the Associate level… Pakistan has a fast-bowling attack that can run a team down really quickly."
Former Pakistan fast bowler and current UAE coach Aaqib Javed has tempered his expectations

"It was tough to bat yesterday, but we had miscalculated somewhat, because we had no idea about the conditions. It wasn't a typical T20 wicket where you look at 170 or 180. Obviously, you learn from your mistakes, and that's why we are here to practice."
Shoaib Malik after Pakistan's optional training session in Mirpur.

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sherbaba75 on February 29, 2016, 15:36 GMT

    I am watching a thrilling game of cricket between Pakistan A vs. Pakistan B ( UAE ). Qualitatively both team are at par. Seriously guys being an Indian I can't imagine what's wrong with Pakistan. Seems they evolving backwards. Few years back we were hearing that the team was in a rebuilding stage. Seems they are still in rebuilding stage and will continue to in the next 5 years and so.....

  • injun-uncle on February 29, 2016, 15:06 GMT

    kazi -- my friend. India have three (3) stars above the logo. One (1) star for winning the 2007 T20 WC and the other two (2) stars for winning the 1983 and 2011 ODI World Cup.

  • Dev Mithra on February 29, 2016, 14:51 GMT

    Just add 20 more runs if not for Aamir and look at this total. It would have been an easy 150 and pak would have lost it. One man show once again! Aamir is the only match winner in pak.

  • Analyst_skipper on February 29, 2016, 13:21 GMT

    @kazi zubair... Mate, indians hav won lots of odi series... Just doestnt show the place of one team by losing some few series... Its just lean patch which is the case for pakistan for the past 10years or so.... India just suffered last year in odi and i agree their test abroad is dismay which ll rectified under kohli captaincy...

  • tusharkardile on February 29, 2016, 13:20 GMT

    Good decision by UAE to bat first. at least they wont be batting under the pressure of a target

  • Siddharth Bhaskar on February 29, 2016, 13:20 GMT

    @ Kazi - we are 2 time odi world champions, no 1 in t20

  • Siddharth Bhaskar on February 29, 2016, 13:16 GMT

    Kazi - we win tournaments

  • cricfanraj on February 29, 2016, 13:15 GMT

    I envy PAK bowling talent.. From where they create such a superb talent like Ameer.. BD is an improved team now at least in shorter formats. It would be either BD or PAK facing India in final.. Feel really sorry for SL. They are going down day by day. Sad part is there is no good upcoming /promising talent.

  • kanad_Boston on February 29, 2016, 13:15 GMT

    SL is in a transitional state and all of their star players are missing. Pakistan is more or less in the same state except one player, Ameer. UAE is basically a hotch-potch and Pakistan's C team. Which means the Asian Cricket is basically a highly troubled water. Some people are fishing in that troubled water very well. It happened in the past also in test cricket. The members of that troubled water at that time were WI and ZIM.

  • Riz000 on February 29, 2016, 13:14 GMT

    As long as we have mediocre players likes of Hafeez, Malik,Sharjeel, Afridi,Khuram manzoor we have no chance of winning any big competition, overrated Ahmed Shehzad gets dropped & they pick Sharjeel? who has already been tested tried and FAILED!! After Sharjeel fails Ahmed shehzad will be back once again! brainless Afridi needs to resign and retire asap and take all useless players along with him PCB must act now to save Pakistan from getting embarrassed. I wonder what has happened to Harris sohail?

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