Pakistan’s Worries Mount as Shaheen Afridi’s Asia Cup 2023 Participation Hangs in the Balance

Shaheen Afridi

Anxiety hung thick in the air as a crowd gathered in Multan witnessed Shaheen Afridi’s discomfort during the Asia Cup 2023 opener against Nepal. The left-arm seamer, known for his early breakthroughs, lived up to his reputation by claiming two wickets in his very first over.

Also Read: Shaheen Afridi Shines in SL vs PAK 1st Test Day 1

However, the distressing moment arrived when Shaheen bowled only five overs and was seen consulting the medical staff on the boundary ropes during the second innings. His eventual decision to leave the field cast a pall of concern over Pakistan, just days ahead of a high-profile clash against India.

Pakistan’s Pace Dilemma Without Shaheen Afridi

The potential absence of Shaheen Afridi leaves Pakistan in a precarious position. Despite the presence of Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf in the pace unit, Afridi’s absence looms large. He has been in formidable form since returning from injury, with impressive performances in Test series, The Hundred, and ODIs. Pakistan is now left searching for alternatives.

1. Mohammad Wasim Jnr: A Ray of Hope

In the midst of this crisis, Mohammad Wasim Jnr emerges as a promising option. This right-arm pacer, a product of Pakistan’s pacer pipeline, turned the tide for Pakistan during the T20 World Cup 2022. With 15 ODIs under his belt, Wasim has already taken 24 wickets, showcasing his ability to swing the new ball. His contribution isn’t limited to bowling; he’s also a handy batsman with a List A average close to 20.

2. Faheem Ashraf: A Surprising Yet Welcome Addition

Faheem Ashraf’s inclusion in the Asia Cup squad raised eyebrows, but it’s proving to be a wise choice. While not a direct replacement for Shaheen Afridi in the bowling department, Ashraf brings depth to the lower-middle order and bolsters Pakistan’s batting lineup. His previous ODI appearance in 2021 saw him take 25 wickets and score 220 runs at a brisk pace, making him a valuable asset.

3 Usama Mir: A Spin Surprise

With spin playing a role in the tournament’s opening match, Usama Mir emerges as an unconventional option. Pakistan, often relying on three frontline pacers, could consider Mir’s leg-spin as a strategic move against India’s right-handed heavy batting lineup. Mir, with 11 wickets in eight matches at a commendable economy rate, has shown fine form in competitions like The Hundred.

The question that looms large is whether Pakistan should risk Shaheen Afridi’s participation against India, even if he’s not fully fit. The answer to this critical decision will shape Pakistan’s journey in the Asia Cup 2023. The upcoming clash against arch-rivals India adds to the complexity of the situation, and the cricketing world watches with bated breath as Pakistan’s team management faces a challenging decision.

In a tournament already filled with excitement and surprises, Pakistan’s predicament adds another layer of intrigue, making the Asia Cup 2023 one for the cricketing history books.