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Pakistan’s Misbah-Ul-Haq beleives his side’s blend of experience and young and exciting players will ensure they are the team to beat for the 2014 Asia Cup title.
Pakistan begin their title campaign today against traditional rivals India, in what is always one of the most anticipated games.
Pakistan, who beat Bangladesh in the 2012 final, come to the tournament on the back of series wins over Sri Lanka and South Africa, and Msibah beleives his side can continue their form.
“The [Pakistan] team is in good shape,” Misbah said.
“Cricket is a confidence game and we have been playing well in the last three-four months. We have to do our basics right to have a good chance.”
Misbah and Mohammad Hafeez have led Pakistan with the bat in the last 12 months, scoring in excess of thousand runs, and Ahmed Shehzad has not been far behind.
The skipper also paid tribute to Sharjeel Khan, Sohaib Maqsood, Mohammad Talha, Bilawal Bhatti and Anwar Ali ahead of the tournament opener.
“Ahmed Shehzad has been part of our team for quite a while, he has been doing well,” Misbah said. “He has improved. Sharjeel Khan had an average series, but he gave glimpses of being a good player, he can time the ball well. We are looking forward to see him develop into a good player.
“[Sohaib] Maqsood played well in South Africa and against Sri Lanka. With experienced players, few youngsters like Anwar Ali and Bilawal Bhatti, they are putting some good scores. I am happy that it is a good, balanced unit. Youngsters are always contributing with the senior players.
“All teams have ability to win against any side,” he said. “It will be good competition. Last Asia Cup was witness of that. Bangladesh beat two big teams, they came close to us. You can expect any team can win against any team.
“Afghanistan are a new, exciting team. They can do anything on a given day. They are not experienced, but they give their 100%. They have players that can really challenge other teams.”
India will be looking to save face after their horror tour of New Zealand, where they failed to win a single game.
MS Dhoni has been ruled out of the Asia Cup in Bangladesh because of a side strain and Virat Kohli will lead India in Dhoni’s absence and Dinesh Karthik slots in as the replacement wicketkeeper.
Dhoni suffered a grade-one strain to his left side during the second Test against New Zealand in Wellington and will undergo rehabilitation for ten days.