Injured Pakistan quicks Haris, Naseem still in World Cup contention
Pakistan captain Babar Azam said on Friday that injured quicks Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah remained central to his team’s World Cup plans, after their absence saw the team crash out of the Asia Cup.
Azam’s men went down to fellow co-hosts Sri Lanka by two wickets on Thursday in a last-ball thriller of a rain-shortened Super Four knockout game in Colombo.
Both Naseem and Rauf were injured in the Super Four loss to India in the 50-over tournament, a tune-up for the ODI World Cup in India starting next month.
“Haris Rauf is not bad, he has a little bit side strain but will recover before the World Cup,” said Azam.
“Naseem Shah has missed a couple of matches but I don’t know about his recovery. But in my opinion he will be in the World Cup.”
The pace duo’s absence was felt when Pakistan failed to defend 252 in their 42-over-a-side match against Sri Lanka.
Charith Asalanka steered his side home in that game, hitting a four and a double off the last two balls, bowled by debutant Zaman Khan.
“Definitely when you lose your best bowlers, that costs you and your team,” Azam said after the match. “We were not short of effort but didn’t finish well.”
Zaman, a fast bowler who made an impression in the Pakistan Super League, needed to defend eight runs and bowled the first four for just two, including a wicket.
But the left-handed Asalanka, who made 49, had the home crowd rejoicing with his winning strike to take Sri Lanka, who won the last edition of the tournament, into their 11th Asia Cup final.
Azam said the team would learn from their mistakes to put on a better show in India next month, where they will meet the hosts in a hotly anticipated October 14 clash in Ahmedabad.
“In fielding we lacked the kind of response that we should have got. In the bowling, there is an issue in the middle overs,” said Azam. “We will try to learn from them and will clear them before going into the World Cup. “