All-rounder Iftikhar Ahmed was chosen over Haider Ali for Pakistan’s Asia Cup 2022 opener vs India. The two sides play the blockbuster game at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday. 

India captain Rohit Sharma won the toss and elected to bowl. Announcing his playing combination at the toss, Pakistan captain Babar Azam said that pacer Naseem Shah makes his T20I debut. Iftikar Ahmed made it to the team while Haider Ali missed out. 

Also read: Asia Cup 2022: Dinesh Karthik over Rishabh Pant? Fans react to India’s selection vs Pakistan

“We would have also been bowling first, but this is not in our hands. We will look to make a big score and see. Three fast bowlers, two spinners and a debut for Naseem Shah. There are a few new faces, and some old faces in that Indian team. We are trying to give it our best,” Azam said at the toss. 

Why Iftikar Ahmed over Haider Ali?

While Haider Ali has established himself as a prime all-rounder for Pakistan over the years, Ahmed’s off-late form might have inspired Pakistan’s selection on Sunday. 

Also read: Asia Cup 2022: Rohit Sharma 10 runs away from becoming highest scorer in T20Is

Ahmed made his Twenty20 debut in 2016. In 16 innings, he has scored 271 runs with 62 being his highest score. The 31-year-old has batted at an average of 30.11 and strike rate over 134.16. With the ball, the all-rounder has taken one wicket. 

Iftikhar Ahmed has remained unbeaten in seven of his 16 inning in the format, which makes him a bankable option in the death overs. 

Also read: Asia Cup 2022: Virat Kohli’s top five innings against Pakistan

Haider Ali, on the other hand, has scored 406 runs off 21 matches. However, his average – 23.88 – is much lower than Iftikhar Ahmed’s. His strike rate is 128.48. 

Pakistan (Playing XI): Babar Azam(c), Mohammad Rizwan(w), Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf, Shahnawaz Dahani