Pakistan fret over Afridi’s fitness ahead of Asia Cup final

Three other injury concerns weighing on Misbah's mind ahead of Sri Lanka clash

Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi, left, and Umar Gul stretch during a team practice session in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on March 7, 2014. AM Ahad / AP Photo
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MIRPUR, Bangladesh // Defending champions Pakistan hope big-hitting all-rounder Shahid Afridi is fit in time to play in the Asia Cup final against Sri Lanka on Saturday.

Afridi, who helped pull off last-over wins with an 18-ball 34 against India and a 25-ball 59 against Bangladesh, missed training on Friday with a hip strain.

“He has responded well to the treatment,” Pakistan manager Zakir Khan said. “We’re all analysing and assessing the situation and will take a decision before the start of the match.”

Though the fitness of batsmen Ahmed Shehzad and Sharjeel Khan and pace bowler Umar Gul also needed to be examined, captain Misbah-ul-Haq said he was not bothered about the injuries.

“Considering the scenario, we’re prepared to face any situation and have our plans ready for the final,” Misbah said. “The morale of the team is high with the way we have won the last two matches. We hope to continue playing positive and good cricket. If you play good cricket, results go your way.”

Misbah said he was hopeful Afridi, who is also one of the main bowlers with his leg spin, will take the field against Sri Lanka.

“At the moment, he’s really playing well. The kind of impact he’s having on the opposition and his own team, he should play,” Misbah said.

But the captain conceded that Sri Lanka, who started with a 12-run win over Pakistan and were undefeated in the round robin, would not be easy to beat with the likes of pace bowler Lasith Malinga, experienced batsman Kumar Sangakkara and spin bowler Ajantha Mendis.

Mendis has a tournament-leading nine wickets at an average of 14, Malinga took five for 52 against Pakistan, and Sangakkara has a tournament-high 248 runs with a best of 103 against India and half-centuries against Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“Sri Lanka are tough, especially in the final, because they do their basics right and always fight,” he said. “We really have to play good cricket.

“You have plans against the main players and others who are contributing for the team. It depends on the day, how you execute those plans.”

Misbah said he was unable to predict the nature of the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium pitch as it looked good for a 300-plus score on one day and not even good for 200 on another.

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