Pakistan will have a number of key targets as they enter a critical period in ODI cricket.
Babar Azam’s team are on an incredible run in the 50-over format, boasting the best record among all teams over the last two years, winning 13 ODIs and losing just four times.
This record will be put to the test over the coming months as Pakistan prepare for a hectic season.
Their first challenge will be the three-match ODI series against Afghanistan in Sri Lanka, which will serve as preparation for the subsequent Asia Cup which Pakistan will co-host with Sri Lanka.
The ODI series against the Afghans will be played on August 22, 24 and 26 in Hambantota and Colombo, while the Asia Cup is scheduled from August 30 to September 17.
If Pakistan manage to win the Afghanistan series 3-0, they will overtake Australia as the top-ranked ODI team in the world.
The Aussies are currently on top with 118 points, just two ahead of Pakistan. However, if Azam’s team win all three games, they will move to the top of the ICC table on 119 points.
If they do claim the No 1 spot, it will be just reward for Pakistan’s hard work and establish them as the favourites for not only the upcoming Asia Cup but also the World Cup in India in October-November.
They have selected a squad that is perfectly suited for that endeavour.
All-rounder Faheem Ashraf was recalled to a strong Pakistan squad for the Afghanistan series and Asia Cup.
New chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq had one of the easier jobs as he picked a squad where very few spots were up for debate, highlighting the strength and depth of Pakistan's white-ball cricket.
Babar leads the team which has all bases covered. Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Rizwan, Babar, Abdullah Shafique, Imam-ul-Haq and Iftikhar Ahmed form the backbone of their batting while pace ace Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah, and Shadab Khan lead a potent bowling attack.
Pakistan will host only four matches in the Asia Cup after India refused to send their team across the border, with the remaining nine in Sri Lanka.
Pakistan's squad for Afghanistan series and Asia Cup: Babar Azam (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Rizwan, Saud Shakeel, Abdullah Shafique, Imam-ul-Haq, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Haris, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Wasim, Mohammad Nawaz, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf, Agha Salman, Tayyab Tahir, Usama Mir