Red-hot Babar Azam to struggling Kohli: Five to watch at Asia Cup 2022

The Asia Cup 2022 begins on Saturday, and top cricketers will be playing including Pakistan captain Babar Azam and India superstar Virat Kohli playing within the United Arab Emirates.

AFP Sport picks five players to follow in the tournament that spans six nations that is a crucial preparation in preparation for the T20 World Cup in Australia in October.

Red-hot Azam

With speed bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi out injured, Pakistan will depend heavily on Azam’s explosive bowling.

The 27-year-old is the leader of his team in both the T20 as well as the one-day bat ranks and is entering the tournament off the back of two major half-century scores in Pakistan’s 3-0 ODI win over the Netherlands.

He scored a nil-beaten number of 68 as his team defeated India in 10 wickets in the previous match between the arch-rivals at the 2021 T20 World Cup — at the same venue that they will meet on Sunday.

Cornered Kohli

The star player Virat Kohli will be playing at the 100th T20 international match when India play Pakistan in their opening match, after being rested from his recent tour of West Indies and Zimbabwe.

The 33-year old is desperate for an impressive score. He last scored the century mark in November, 2019 and is in the most difficult phase of his otherwise impressive career.

Kohli who has racked up 27 hundred and a half centuries across 102 matches since his debut in the year 2011, was shattered by a traumatic year that saw him removed as captain of the national team.

“He gets a fifty in the very first game, mouths will be shut for the rest of the tournament,” said Ravi Shastri, the former India coach.

All-round Hasaranga

Wanindu Hasaranga made a strong impression with his leg-spin during the current Indian Premier League, taking 26 wickets in 16 games to increase his status as a quality bowler.

Alongside spinners Maheesh Theekshana Jeffery Vandersay, and Praveen Jayawickrama, he’ll lead Sri Lanka’s bowling team in the UAE’s spin-friendly slow pitches.

Hasaranga 25, who didn’t take part at The Hundred in England because Sri Lanka wanted him fresh for the Asia Cup and T20 World Cup He is also a good lower-middle-order batsman.

Captain Shakib

Shakib Al-Hasan been the subject of controversy both in or off the pitch however He remains Bangladesh’s top player, and will soon be the leader of the team.

The all-rounder of the year was instructed to end his association with a casino portal to regain the title of captain for Bangladesh who have lost just two of their 15 last Twenty20 matches.

The 35-year-old left-handed spinner and batsman, will be playing the 100th T20 international match when Bangladesh begin the Asia Cup campaign against Afghanistan on Tuesday.

Spin King Rashid

Rashid Khan will be Afghanistan’s main bowler during the race for the Asian title, with the leg-spinner performing well with 112 wickets across the 66 international T20s.

The 23-year-old has become a major draw in the world’s Twenty20 leagues, such as The IPL as well as The Hundred, with his ability to take wickets and attack lower-order the batting.450

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