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KARACHI: Pakistan has selected a balanced and strong team for the upcoming Asia Cup which is ideally suited for the UAE conditions and will give a tough time to all the competing teams.

This was stated by former chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed Sallu on Tuesday while speaking to the media here.

“I must hand it to the national selectors that they have selected a very fine squad for Asia Cup which is ideally suited for the UAE conditions,” he said. “It is customary to select three openers for an ODI tournament and all three — Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq and Shan Masood — are the best available choices. Shan, who has been in brilliant form this season, is making a comeback on merit,” added Sallu. “He (Shan) has made some good changes to his technique which are paying off and he has topped the aggregate this season.”

Sallu noted that due to the blossoming of Shadab Khan and Faheem Ashraf into fine all-rounders, Pakistan’s middle-order batting as well as bowling has been strengthened to a great extent. “And Mohammad Nawaz to back Shadab in spin department, we have a good variety in bowling.”

The former Test cricketer praised the Pakistan middle-order and said Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Shoaib Malik and Asif Ali are rock solid players who can provide lot of stability to the team.

“Fast bowling department, as usual, is strong and the addition of tall and fast Shaheen Shah Afridi and the searing pace of Shinwari has given Pakistan a definite edge over other teams, none of which have such a formidable pace attack.”

Speaking about captain Sarfraz, Sallu said: “He has infused a fighting spirit into the side which was very evident in the Champions Trophy last year as well as the Zimbabwe tri-series early this year.

“Under his (Sarfraz) leadership, the team has gelled superbly. All the players now realise their responsibility and are performing well,” he concluded.

Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2018