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Cricket's Asia Cup: An undersold tournament in search of meaning

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Roar Guru
4 days ago

The Euro Cup and Copa America are two sub-regional soccer tournaments as famous as the mother cup, the FIFA World Cup. However, the Asia Cup of Cricket started in 1984 and has struggled to find a context among global cricket fans.

Considering that more than 80 per cent of the viewing public belongs to this sub-region, the lack of prestige and context for the Asia Cup is a big surprise.

A lot of the blame should be placed on the Asia Cricket Council (ACC), which did not conduct this tournament regularly and did not make any attempt to create a narrative. When you have blockbuster rivalries among the sub-continental teams, it takes a special kind of ineptness on the part of ACC to fail to create a storied tournament.

Of late, the ACC has positioned the tournament as a dress rehearsal for the Asian teams before a World Cup. The T20 Asia Cup was a big success last year and the ACC hopes this year’s 50-over Asia Cup will succeed similarly. The tournament ran into a controversy, with India refusing to travel to Pakistan and matches having to be staged in two parts between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. If one knows this region, a lack of controversy will be a surprise!

Coming to the Cricket, the tournament promises to be a blockbuster where five out of the six teams can beat each other on their day. The teams are at full strength, another big reason for this tournament’s expectations of high-quality cricket. Let us look at the teams and discuss their chances in this tournament.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 09: Babar Azam of Pakistan bduring the ICC Men's T20 World Cup Semi Final match between New Zealand and Pakistan at Sydney Cricket Ground on November 09, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Babar Azam. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)


Over the past few years, Pakistan has been quite successful in the World tournaments. They made it to the finals of the T20 WC in Australia in 2022 and were a semi-finalist in the T20 WC in Dubai in 2021. The new batch of players with good experience in the PSL have become far more consistent than their yesteryear groups in the 2000s or the 2010s.


The team is fit and energetic, and many are good fielders. Unlike in the past, their fast bowling unit has stayed fit and focused on their cricket rather than falling by the wayside after bursting onto the international scene. The trio of fast bowlers – Shaheen Afridi, Harris Rauf and Naseem Shah – will run in hard and go for wickets from ball 1. The batting unit led by Babar Azam is solid. It has a good mix of long-innings players at the top, hard-hitting players in the middle order, useful allrounders in the lower middle order and a lower order that can use the long handle.

We saw Pakistan’s batting depth in their recent match against Afghanistan, where the tailender Naseem Shah scored much-needed boundaries to win them a 50-over game. Pakistan, with a well-balanced batting and bowling attack and a decent fielding unit, are the favourites for this tournament.

Pakistan team
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 (Jr), Naseem Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Saud Shakeel, Tayyab Tahir


India goes into this Asia Cup with uncertainties regarding returning star players’ fitness, player role clarity and match practice. India will play their games in Sri Lanka, where pitches will be slow and aid spin. The Indian batters’ ability to score quickly against spin on slow-turning wickets will be tested to the hilt. All the opposing teams, barring Nepal, have a good set of spin bowlers to push the Indians. None of the batters in the squad are in a great run of form, and they will use the matches to gain form before the World Cup.

Jasprit Bumrah’s form and fitness will be tested during this tournament. All of India will be eager to see him play all the games in the tournament without any fitness issues. The bowling unit has seasoned campaigners like Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja to give Bumrah company in the games. With every piece up in the air, it is hard for anyone to say how this team will perform in the tournament. The team will most likely fall back on experienced stars like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Siraj, and Jadeja to pull them ahead in the contest; all the rest have some question marks, ranging from fitness, form and ability, standing in front of them. If all the pieces fall miraculously in place, this Indian team has the personnel capable of winning the tournament. However, there are too many unknowns at this moment.

Indian team
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 Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Prasidh Krishna, Sanju Samson

Virat Kohli of India bats.

Virat Kohli. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)


Moments of drama are never far away from Bangladesh cricket. The retirement and comeback of Tamim Iqbal is a recent instance. Despite some drama episodes, Bangladesh’s 50-over cricket has marched forward strongly. Bangladesh has performed excellently in this part of the World; they beat India in the home series last year. However, the loss of Tamim Iqbal and Litton Das will impact their batting in this tournament. Despite the loss of these batters, Bangladesh have a good bunch of batters at the top, all-rounders in the middle and helpful tailenders to aid the batting lineup. The top order will have some newer players who will look to prove their capabilities in this tournament.

Their bowling unit has a good mix of spinners and medium pacers, who are tough to get away on these slow wickets. Bangladesh has a team capable of putting up a good show in this Asia Cup but doesn’t seem to have the power to win it. They are in a tough group alongside Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, so their first aim will be to reach the Super Four stage of the tournament.

Bangladesh team
Shakib Al Hasan (c), Anamul Haque Bijoy, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Towhid Hridoy, Mushfiqur Rahim, Afif Hossain Dhrubo, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Taskin Ahmed, Hasan Mahmud, Mustafizur Rahman, Shoriful Islam, Nasum Ahmed, Shak Mahedi Hasan, Naim Sheikh, Shamim Hossain, Tanzid Hasan Tamim, Tanzim Hasan Sakib.

Sri Lanka

The co-hosts of this tournament had a good ICIC World Cup qualifying tournament where they won all their matches comfortably. Their batting lineup was excellent, with Pathum Nissanka and Dimuth Karunaratne being the leading scorers. The team has excellent strikers of the ball in Dasun Shanaka, Kusal Mendis, Charith Asalanka and Kusal Perera. From the bowling point of view, Maheesh Theekshana is in good form, taking loads of wickets in the qualifying tournament.


Matheesha Pathirana will look to build upon his IPL performances and showcase his ‘slinga’ style in ODI cricket. Kasun Rajitha is another useful bowler for them. He bowled magnificently in that thriller of a test match against New Zealand in Christchurch. Sri Lanka plays well at home and will offer a stiff challenge to Pakistan and India in their quest for the Cup.

Sri Lankan team
Dasun Shanaka (c), Pathum Nissanaka, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Janith Perera, Kusal Mendis (vc), Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Maheesh Theekshana, Dunith Wellalage, Matheesha Pathirana, Kasun Rajitha, Dushan Hemantha, Binura Fernando, Pramod Madushan

Dasun Shanaka

Dasun Shanaka. (Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images)


Afghanistan is a team working hard to become a breakout cricketing nation in limited overs cricket like Sri Lanka did in 1995-96. They have put a competent XI on the field, which has run big teams like Pakistan and India close. One cannot forget the 2019 World Cup match between India and Afghanistan or their repeated heartbreakers against Pakistan; the recent instance was in Sri Lanka.

Afghanistan’s strength is their fantastic bowling unit, full of wicket-taking mystery bowlers. Rashid Khan, Mujeeb and Noor Ahmad are brilliant spinners, each offering a completely different challenge to the batters. Their inconsistent batting has prevented them from winning more games against the more significant cricketing nations. If they get a good score with the bat, Afghani bowlers will make the opponents sweat for their win.

Afghanistan team
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, Fazalhaq Farooqi



Nepal are at the Asia Cup after pipping the United Arab Emirates in the qualifying tournament. They will play India and Pakistan in their group matches. One does not expect much from the Nepalese team in this tournament. The hope will be to see them play well against these strong cricketing teams and return with helpful experience for their future.

Nepalese team
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, Arjun Saud