In a surprising turn of events, Pakistan’s Asia Cup 2023 squad has witnessed a late addition in the form of the talented middle-order batsman, Saud Shakeel. With just days to go before the tournament kicks off, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) decided to elevate Shakeel from the travelling reserves to the main squad, bolstering their batting lineup.Saud Shakeel’s inclusion comes after he made a remarkable return to the ODI squad during the Afghanistan bilateral series. Initially left out of the 17-member squad, Shakeel was drafted in as the 18th member. Although he only had one opportunity to showcase his skills, in which he scored nine runs, his presence was enough to earn him a spot in the Asia Cup squad. This demonstrates the selectors’ confidence in his abilities and their belief in his potential to make an impact on the big stage.

Pakistan’s Asia Cup Campaign

Pakistan’s Asia Cup journey is set to begin on August 30, with a clash against Nepal in Multan. The team, led by the charismatic Babar Azam, will be eager to start the tournament on a positive note. With the addition of Saud Shakeel, Pakistan now boasts a more formidable middle order, providing the skipper with additional options in the batting department.

The Battle of the Giants

One of the most anticipated fixtures of the tournament is the clash between arch-rivals India and Pakistan, scheduled for September 2 at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Kandy. This match promises to be a thrilling contest and will set the tone for the Men in Green’s campaign. Shakeel’s presence adds depth to Pakistan’s squad, making them a stronger contender in this high-stakes encounter.

The Road Ahead

The Asia Cup 2023 will be co-hosted by Pakistan and Sri Lanka, featuring two groups. Pakistan, along with India and Nepal, forms Group A, while Group B comprises Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka. The tournament will follow a hybrid model with matches being played in both countries. After the group stage matches, the top two teams will advance to the Super Fours, starting on September 6. The final showdown is scheduled for September 17 in Colombo, where the two best teams will vie for Asia Cup glory.

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