Pakistan on Friday registered a dominant win over Hong Kong to book a berth in the Super Four stage of Asia Cup 2022. The Babar Azam-led side defeated Hong Kong by 155 runs, bowling the side out on merely 38 after posting a strong score of 193/2. Mohammad Rizwan top-scored for the men in green, remaining unbeaten on 78 off 57 deliveries while Fakhar Zama also scored a half-century (53 off 41 balls). Khushdil Shah, then, provided the late bloom with a quickfire unbeaten 35 off just 15 balls.
With the ball, Shadab Khan ended with impressive figures of 4/8 while pacers Naseem Shah and Shahnawaz Dahani were also among the wickets. Mohammad Nawaz also picked three as Hong Kong were blown away by a much-more experienced Pakistan bowling attack.
The Pakistan side is missing the services of star left-arm pacer Shaheen Afridi in the Asia Cup and after its defeat to India in the opening game of the tournament, many believed that Afridi could have made a difference. After Pakistan's convincing win on Friday, Rizwan was asked to review the pacer's performances in the two games and the wicketkeeper-batter had a rather blunt remark.
"I've talked to the bowlers before. I will be very honest here, no bowler from this group can replace Shaheen. This is my honest answer," Rizwan said in the post-match press conference.
"The way he (Shaheen) has performed in the past 1-2 years, no bowler can come into the side and fill his shoes. But, we can get another Shaheen and this is an opportunity for our other fast bowlers. The way Naseem and Dahani have performed.. and Haris is already a part of the side, so we are hopeful," said the Pakistan wicketkeeper-batter.
Rizwan said that Pakistan always had the pedigree of world-class fast bowlers, adding that he is hopeful of the side finding a new pace-bowling combination soon. "We are famous for our fast bowlers. So if we get a new combination, it will be very good for Pakistan," said Rizwan.
Pakistan will return to action on Sunday night (September 4) when the side takes on arch-rivals India in its first match of the Super Four stage.