Asia Cup kicks off as teams gear up for World Cup

Publish: 6:59 PM, August 28, 2023 | Update: 6:59 PM, August 28, 2023

The 16th edition of the Asia Cup, a regional cricket tournament, starts on Wednesday with the articipating teams focusing on to have a fine tune ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup.

Pakistan will take on Nepal in the opening game at Multan to kick-start the tournament.

This is the first time that the tournament is being co-hosted by multiple countries, with four matches taking place in Pakistan and the remaining nine in Sri Lanka.

Pakistan basically were the host of the tournament but the political turmoil between them and India forced the event to be shared by two countries.

India are the most successful team in the tournament, winning it for seven times while Sri Lanka came second to them with six trophies.

Pakistan won the tournament only twice. Bangladesh who of late had made them an ODI giant reached the final three times but failed to win it.

India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have each missed one edition of the Asia Cup leaving Sri Lanka as the only team to have competed in every tournament since 1984.

The format of the Asia will be ODI this time, considering the ODI World Cup in India later this year. In fact the organisers decided to hold Asia Cup according to the format of the World Cup since 2016. Therefore the 2016 and 2022 Asia Cup was a T20 format tournament.

The decision was taken only to give the teams a perfect preparation platform for the World Cup.

Last time when the ODI format Asia Cup held was in 2018, a tournament in which Bangladesh moved to the final but despite a blitzkrieg century of Liton Das, they failed to overcome an Indian juggernaut.

In 2022, which was T20 format Asia Cup, Sri Lanka became champions. So, T20 format Asia Cup defending champion is Sri Lanka while ODI format Asia Cup reigning champion is India.

Apart from Nepal, other five teams of the Asia Cup will play World Cup and hence the tournament is crucial for them to sort out their shortcomings and other problems.

But the eventual question is who will be the favourite to clinch the trophy. On paper India are the strongest outfit while Bangladesh of late proved they can win against any team in any condition now at least in ODI format. Sri Lanka had to play the Qualifier to confirm their World Cup spot but their
Asia Cup record is enviable. Moreover , they will play at their own backyard and needless to say, they will be tough nuts to crack even though most of their crucial players will miss the tournament, either due to injury or due to Covid-19.

Pakistan though are not historically successful in Asia Cup, one simply can’t write them off due to their unpredictable nature. Moreover under the inspiring leadership of super calm Babar Azam, they became one of the most consistent teams in the world.

Afghanistan lacked consistency in ODI format but on their given day, they can beat any side in the world. Their batting depth is questionable but they can amend batting failure with their world class spin attack, led by Rashid Khan. Nepal are the other team, who will be happy if they can upset any side. But it is sure India and Pakistan will use their match against Nepal only to prepare them for the big match.

However as per the stat since 2018 Asia Cup, India and Bangladesh are the most successful teams amongst the six teams of this tournament in ODI format of cricket.

In the last five years, India’s winning ratio is 61.90 as they won 52 matches, playing 84 while Bangladesh’s ratio is 59.09 as they played 66 matches and won 39.

Pakistan’s winning ratio is 52.63 after winning 30 matches in 57. Sri Lanka on 31 matches out of 71 and their winning ratio is only 43.66. Afghanistan’s winning ratio is 40.90 as they won 18 amongst their 44 matches.

Former Pakistan captain and legendary fast bowler Wasim Akram meanwhile refused to pick any favourites for the tournament.

Akram said the road will be tough for all sides but at the same time, he said Bangladesh and Sri Lanka shouldn’t be taken lightly as the both of the teams have the credential to clinch the trophy.

“Last time we had predicted an India versus Pakistan final but Sri Lanka won the competition. All three teams are dangerous – anyone can win on their day,” Akram told reporters during a tournament sponsor’s event

“There are other teams competing too. Last time Sri Lanka won the title, India even failed to make it to the final. India versus Pakistan is very important, we know about so much support (teams get), so many eyeballs, so many people (following). But other teams are also here to play so you cannot minus Sri Lanka or Bangladesh,” he added.
Squad of the participating teams in Asia Cup:

Group A

Pakistan: Babar Azam (c), Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Salman Ali Agha, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Haris, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Usama Mir, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Saud Shakeel and Tayyab Tahir (travelling reserve)
India: Rohit Sharma (c), Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Shubman Gill, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya (vc), Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumraj, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Prasidh Krishna and Sanju Samson (travelling reserve)

Nepal: Rohit Paudel (c), Kushal Bhurtel, Aasif Sheikh, Bhim Sharki, Kushal Malla, Aarif Sheikh, Dipendra Singh Airee, Gulshan Jha, Sompal Kami, Karan KC, Sandeep Lamichhane, Lalit Rajbanshi, Pratish GC, Mousom Dhakal, Sundeep Jora, Kishore Mahato and Arjun Saud
Group B

Bangladesh: Shakib Al Hasan (c), Liton Das, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Towhid Hridoy, Mushfiqur Rahim, Afif Hossain Dhrubo, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Taskin Ahmed, Hasan Mahmud, Mustafizur Rahman, Shoriful Islam, Nasum Ahmed, Mahedi Hasan, Naim Sheikh, Shamim Hossain, Tanzid Hasan Tamim and Tanzim Hasan Sakib

Afghanistan: Hashmatullah Shahidi (c), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Riaz Hassan, Rahmat Shah, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Ikram Alikhil, Rashid Khan, Gulbadin Naib, Karim Janat, Abdul Rahman, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Suliman Safi and Fazalhaq Farooqi

Sri Lanka: Dasun Shanaka (C), Pathum Nissanka, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Charith Asalanka, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dushan Hemantha, Dunith Wellalage, Maheesh Theekshana, Pramod Madushan, Kasun Rajitha, Dilshan Madushanka and Matheesha Pathirana.