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Asia Cup: Pakistan batsman Asad Shafiq feels his country favourites to lift trophy

The Pakistanis defeated India in the final of the Champions Trophy 2017.

Asad Shafiq
Asad Shafiq of Pakistan leaves the field during the Second Test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. (Photo Source: Francois Nel/Getty Images)

Former Asia Cup champions Pakistan are favorites to win the trophy again this year since it is in a good shape, the resurgent side’s middle-order batsman, Asad Shafiq feels. Pakistan, who recently won a triangular T20I tournament beating Australia in the final and thrashed Zimbabwe 5-0 in an ODI series, will be one of the heavyweights in the 12th edition of Asia Cup to be played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) between September 15-28.

Shafiq, who has played 61 Tests, 60 ODIs and 10 T20Is for Pakistan, told the media in Karachi that Sarfraz Ahmed’s side was doing a lot of hard work and that made it one of the favorites to become Asia’s best again. Shafiq himself, however, hasn’t played in the ODIs for Pakistan since January 2017.

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‘Chances of Pakistan winning are bright’

“The chances of Pakistan winning the Asia cup are bright. Players are working really hard which can be seen by the gradual improvement in the team’s performances over the past 18 months,” Pakistan’s The Express Tribune quoted the 32-year-old cricketer, who recently underwent a surgery on his hand, as saying. He also said the tour of Zimbabwe that saw Pakistan winning two titles helped it.

Pakistan and India are clubbed in the same group along with a still undecided qualifier in the upcoming Asia Cup. While they are scheduled to lock horns on September 19, the format of the tournament will see them playing each other in the second round on September 24 unless of course one of them crash out in a miracle.

Pakistan has won the Asia Cup twice – in 2000 and 2012. While they beat Sri Lanka by 39 runs in the final, they won by just 2 runs against Bangladesh in 2012 final. Both their titles came on the soil of Bangladesh. The most number of Asia Cup titles has been won by India (five), followed by Sri Lanka (four). India has beaten Sri Lanka the most number of times in the final and won the 2016 edition by defeating Bangladesh.

Pakistan won their last major tournament in 2017 when they hammered arch-rivals India by 180 runs in the final of the Champions Trophy in England.

Shafiq, who hopes to begin practice in a few day’s time, also hailed former Pakistan captain Imran Khan over his show in the recent elections in the country, saying the latter set a great example for everyone to follow.

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