Pakistan will begin their Asia Cup 2018 campaign against debutant Hong Kong in the first Group A match at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday.
While Pakistan — like the other five full ICC members — were given direct entries into the Asia Cup, Hong Kong had to take the laborious route of a qualifying tournament, where they defeated the UAE in the final to seal a berth for the prestigious biennial tournament.
After Bangladesh’s routing in their opening clash against Sri Lanka, Pakistan cannot afford to falter and be complacent against Hong Kong.
The Men in Green are coming off an extended break and the Asia Cup starts a hectic period for them with home series against Australia and New Zealand looming, followed by a full tour of South Africa, the annual Pakistan Super League (PSL) and the season-ending 2019 World Cup in England. They are a squad brimming with talent, so much so that they could afford to leave at home the likes of Muhammad Hafeez, whose groans over contract demotion may have cost him his place in the side.
On the other hand, there is nothing to lose for Hong Kong who played out of their skins and performed exceptionally well to just reach the tournament proper. The tournament will serve as an opportunity for them to add to their CVs with good performances as the matches against Pakistan and India will be counted as full internationals.
Pakistan squad: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shan Masood, Sarfraz Ahmed(c), Shoaib Malik, Haris Sohail, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan, Usman Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Asif Ali, Mohammad Amir
Hong Kong squad: Anshuman Rath(c), Aizaz Khan, Babar Hayat, Cameron McAulsan, Christopher Carter, Ehsan Khan, Ehsan Nawaz, Arshad Mohammad, Kinchit Shah, Nadeem Ahmed, Raag Kapur, Scott McKechnie, Tanveer Ahmed, Tanwir Afzal, Waqas Khan, Aftab Hussain