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Pakistans Chances in the Asia Cup 2022 After Shaheen Afridi Injury

Shaheen Afridi has been a key bowler for Pakistan for a long time and it will be difficult to fill the void left by his injury, Will Pakistan be as strong as they are with his presence?

Posted Date: Aug 24, 2022

Posted By: Bren Gray

Pakistans Chances in the Asia Cup 2022 After Shaheen Afridi Injury
Pakistans Chances in the Asia Cup 2022 After Shaheen Afridi Injury

This Sunday afternoon, Pakistan and India will face off in the second game of the Asia Cup 2022.

Formatted as a rapid fire T20 tournament, taking place from 27 August to 11 September, the Asia Cup is an excellent opportunity for teams to warm up ahead of October’s T20 World Cup. Two teams looking to hit strong form are India and Pakistan, who have both been drawn in the same pool together, yet are the top two teams favoured to win the tournament.

However, Pakistan have suffered a significant blow to their tournament hopes this year, with the recent injury to Shaheen Afridi.

We breakdown Pakistan’s chances in the Asia Cup 2022 following this news, and explain the impact Afridi’s injury will have on the tournament as a whole.

Knee Injury Rules Shaheen Afridi Out of Asia Cup 2022

Over the weekend, it was announced that Shaheen Afridi would not be participating in the Asia Cup 2022, due to a knee injury.

The PCB’s medical advisory committee declared that the star fast bowler would need four to six weeks’ rest, meaning he will also miss the T20 series against England following the Asia Cup 2022.

Whether or not Afridi recovers in time for Pakistan’s T20 World Cup campaign remains to be seen.

Speaking about the bowler, Pakistan’s vice-captain Shadab Khan had this to say, “Shaheen’s our best bowler, so of course we’ll miss him. It's unfortunate that he won't be available for the Asia Cup.”

Mohammad Hasnain has been named as a replacement for Afridi, and will travel to the UAE with Pakistan for their Asia Cup 2022 campaign.

Why Shaheen Afridi’s Injury is So Significant for Pakistan

Over the past few years, Shaheen Afridi has shown himself to be Pakistan’s strike bowler across all three formats.

Perhaps his most stirring performance in the last 12 months came against India in the group stages of the T20 World Cup 2021.

In this match, Shaheen Afridi he had a large hand in Pakistan’s ten wicket win over their rivals. In his first two overs, the fast bowler removed both Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul, for scores of 0(1) and 3(8) respectively. This was followed up by an excellent death bowling spell, where Afridi also removed the dangerous Virat Kohli for 57(49), causing India to slump to 151/7. Awarded Man of the Match, Afridi finished on figures of 31/3 off four overs.

To put this bowling effort in context, the next three times Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul opened together, they were devastating.

With opening partnerships of 140/0 off 14.3, 70/0 off 4.5 and 86/0 off 9.4, India tore through their last three group matches of the T20 World Cup 2021. The fact that they were unable to do this in their opening match against Pakistan was a telling factor in the sides ability to limit India to 151/7, a very chaseable score in T20 cricket.

All eyes were on this fixture in the Asia Cup 2022, where Shaheen Afridi would have been licking his lips at the prospect of dispatching Sharma and Rahul yet again. However, his injury means that this will not be possible, and Pakistan will have to rely on another bowler to combat India’s powerful opening partnership.

How Afridi’s Injury Has Affected Pakistan’s Tournament Hopes

The reality is, the injury to Shaheen Afridi has put a significant dent in Pakistan’s tournament hopes.

As the No.13 ranked T20 bowler in the world, Shaheen Afridi is hard to replace. With 47 wickets across 40 T20Is, the 22-year-old has been a staple in Pakistan’s playing XI over the last four years, despite his young age. In the 2021/22 season alone, he took 15 wickets at an economy of 6.65 and an average of 17.73. These are excellent T20 figures, and Afridi’s injury leaves a hole in Pakistan’s bowling line up.

In particular, Shaheen was a new-ball and death over specialist.

His role was exactly the one he played against India last year—remove the dangerous batsmen before they get set, then return to take wickets at the death. This wicket taking ability is something Pakistan have come to rely on to win matches.

Afridi’s replacement, Mohammad Hasnain, is not a like-for-like replacement.

While Hasnain had a strong year last year, taking 10 T20I wickets, he isn’t the threat that Afridi is. His economy rate across T20Is is 7.9, while his bowling average is 30.7—both of these showing that he lacks the consistency to put pressure on opposition batsmen. His strongest performances have been against weak teams such as Zimbabwe, and with no T20I appearances for Pakistan so far in 2022, it will be a stretch for the young man to fill the shoes of Shaheen Afridi.

As a result, expect Pakistan to take less wickets in the opening power play, and be vulnerable in the death overs.

Recent Betting Odds Reflect Pakistan’s Bowling Weakness

Removing Pakistan’s strike bowler has had an impact on how they rank in the eyes of the bookmakers ahead of the Asia Cup 2022.

At one stage neck-and-neck with India to win the tournament, Pakistan have now significantly slipped off the pace.

Most bookmakers have Pakistan at 4.33 or +333 to win the Asia Cup 2022, indicating a little over a one in five chance for the men in green to come away victors. Tournament favourites India, however, have risen as high as 1.57 or -175 at some bookmakers, reflecting a greater than three in five chance for India to win the Asia Cup 2022.

However, despite the loss of Shaheen Afridi impacting Pakistan’s chances of success in the Asia Cup 2022, they are still solidly the second favourite team in the tournament. Sri Lanka are well behind on 9.00 or +800 in the odds, little more than a one in ten shot at success, while Bangladesh are even further off the pace on 12.00, or +1100.

Bottom line is, for Pakistan to succeed in the Asia Cup 2022, their other fast bowlers will need to stand up and plug the gap left by Shaheen Afridi. While the result of the August 28 game between India and Pakistan is unlikely to be fatal for either side, given that the top two sides move through from each pool, it will give a good indication of how Pakistan have responded to this loss.

Perhaps this is the break that Mohammad Hasnain needs to become Pakistan’s next premier fast bowler.