Pakistan bowling coach Morne Morkel on Wednesday said injuries to their leading quicks are a major blow ahead of a must-win Asia Cup match, but a “fantastic opportunity” for up-and-coming talent. Naseem Shah has been ruled out of the team’s final Super Four match — effectively the semi-final — against Sri Lanka in Colombo on Thursday. Pakistan Super League star Zaman Khan came on as a substitute and goes straight into the squad which was announced on the eve of the key match. Naseem and guy fast Haris Rauf was injured in the team’s previous Super Four clash in the 50-over tournament, a prelude to the upcoming ODI World Cup.
“A big knock, picking up the little bums, but in the same sort of thing, what a great opportunity for the guys coming in,” Morkel, a former South African fast bowler, told reporters.
“Having gone down against India, it’s a must-win game for us tomorrow and I’m quite excited to see the new guys step in, to see their character, to see how they react. “
Zaman, 22, flew in from Pakistan and is already a household name in domestic cricket following his heroics in this year’s PSL for champions Lahore Qalandars.
“I’m excited to just work with him, connect with them and build that relationship and help him develop because he’s a match-winner,” Morkel said of the quick, who defended 13 runs off his last over to starring in Lahore’s title defence. season.
Shaheen Shah Afridi leads the Pakistan pace attack that rattled India in the Asia Cup group match which was washed out after just one innings.
But Shaheen and company took a hammering in their last encounter with India, who posted 356-2 in a match played over two days due to rain.
Morkel said the 228-run defeat against India has been a good learning experience ahead of the 50-over showpiece event where they will face their arch-rivals on October 14.
“These are great experiences for us,” said Morkel, who rated Shaheen as “world class”.
“The tougher situations we can face leading up to the World Cup, that’s brilliant. You know we’ll grow from this and then come back stronger.”
Critics have pointed to Pakistan’s lack of quality spinners, a major disadvantage in turning Sri Lankan wickets, but Morkel insists the slow bowlers remain ready to perform.
Pakistan XI: Mohammad Haris, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam (capt), Mohammad Rizwan (wkt), Saud Shakeel, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Mohammad Nawaz, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Wasim, Zaman Khan
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