File image of Pakistan pacer Shaheen Afridi© Twitter
The Asia Cup 2023 schedule was announced on Wednesday. Asian Cricket Council (ACC) head Jay Shah, who is also the BCCI secretary, was the first to announce the schedule. Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), co-hosts of the continental event, also organised an unveiling ceremony to announce the schedule with its head Zaka Ashraf present on the occasion along with former Pakistan players. There, Ashraf inadvertently committed a comical blunder. When talking about the potential of Pakistan in ODIs, he mistakenly called fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi, a top 10 batter.
“There is strength in both our batting and bowling. If you talk about batting, our captain [Babar Azam] is number one [ranked batter] in the world. If you talk about others, then Pakistan batters are among the top-five [in the rankings],” Ashraf said during the ceremony, a video of which is available on PCB’s YouTube channel.
“If you talk about Shaheen Shah Afridi, his name comes in the top 10 batters. So, the way Pakistan team is playing, my best wishes are with them.”
While Pakistan captain Babar is ranked number in the ICC ODI rankings, Fakhar Zaman and Imam ul Haq are third and fourth in the ranking table. Left-arm pacer Afridi is currently the no.9 bowler in ODIs but he is nowhere close to being in the op-10 among batters.
This time the Asia Cup is being played in a hybrid model, after Shah declared last year that India would not be travelling to Pakistan for the event. The tournament will begin with a match between Pakistan and Nepal in Multan, Pakistan, on August 30. The much-awaited India-Pakistan clash will take place in Kandy, Sri Lanka, on September 2. India will face Nepal in the other group stage match on September 4 at the same venue.
Pakistan will host three group stage matches and one Super Four stage match. The rest of the tournament will be played in Sri Lanka. The final will take place in Colombo on September 17.
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