Asia Cup T20I 2016: Five Players to watch out for

Eyebrows were raised when Pakistan announced their Asia Cup and World T20 squad and their premier batsman Ahmed Shehzad was replaced by Khurram Manzoor. Few armchair critics are still questioning the rather bold decision of PCB, which will certainly put added pressure on Manzoor to perform and prove the selectors right. The 29-year-old has played 16 Tests and seven ODIs thus far for Pakistan, but has never featured in a Twenty20 game. Now it would be interesting to see whether PCB’s gamble on Manzoor pays off or backfires.

Fully fit Mohammed Shami is certainly the best fast bowler India have at the moment. His rich experience, ability to bowl yorkers in slog-overs and impeccable discipline make him a premier bowler. However, going into the Asia Cup T20, last tournament ahead of thecoveted World T20, it would be a good opportunity for him to prove his fitness. He hasn’t played a single match for India after the 2015 World Cup due to injuries. But all eyes would be on the 25-year-old Bengal pacer’s fitness as India prepare for the Asia Cup, which will serve as the perfect preparatory camp for him.

Bangladesh's bowling sensation, Mustafizur Rahman has been in prime form since he made his international debut against Pakistan in a T20I match in April 24, 2015. In less than a year’s time, the 20-year-old has become an important part of a confident Bangladesh side, cross all formats of the game. He has a knack of surprising a batsman with his line, variations and angles. The left-arm seamer is arguably a major reason behind the sudden resurgence of the Tigers. Even after achieving a lot of success in such a short span of his career, another stern test awaits the seamer in Asia Cup T20, where he will be facing some of world’s best batsmen. It would be interesting to see how effectively he will use the slower ones -- his trademark delivery, which have earned him a lot of wickets.

After grabbing headlines following his call-up for Asia Cup and World T20, and then emerging out as the costliest Indian player at the Indian Premier League Players’ Auction for the coming season, it’s time for Pawan Negi to justify his talent. The diminutive all-rounder is known for his orthodox left-arm spin and big hitting abilities. But in the Asia Cup, it would be interesting to see whether he will get a chance to prove himself at the the continental tournament or will go directly to the World T20 without making his international debut. However, few matches in Bangladesh, host nation of the Asia Cup, will give the Delhi-lad some confidence ahead of the coveted tournament, scheduled to take place on the home soil.

Still 35, Asia Cup will be Shahid Afridi’s penultimate international tournament. Already retired from Test and ODI formats, this would be a golden opportunity for Pakistan to win Asia Cup trophy for their forever young skipper. At the same time, Afridi too has a chance to hypnotise the crowd with his swashbuckling batting display. Afridi still has the ability to keep the spectators on the edge of their seats with his thrilling display of skills. And if veteran Afridi manages to keep his players motivated and united, there is no reason why Pakistan can’t win Asia Cup, or for that matter World T20 under his captaincy to give him a dream send off. 


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