The forthcoming Asia Cup will be an important tournament to prepare for this year’s World Cup in India
Asia Cup is one of the most popular cricket tournaments in Asia, especially in the Sub-continent.
Unlike previous years, the competition will be played over the 50-over format, allowing teams to prepare for the upcoming One-Day International World Cup, which will be held in October-November this year in India.
So far 15 editions (including 50 and 20 overs both formats) have been played and the 16th edition of the Asia Cup is scheduled to commence on 30th August, 2023, in Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The final will be played on 17th September in Colombo.
The five full members of the Asian Cricket Council - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - will take part in the tournament. Nepal who qualified winning the 2023 ACC Men’s Premier Cup will be the sixth team.
Six teams are divided into two groups. Group ‘A’ teams are Pakistan, India and Nepal while Group ‘B’ consists of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Top two teams from each group advance to the Super Four stage. And the competition’s final will feature a showdown between the top two teams from the Super Four stage.
A total of 13 matches will be played in the 2023 ODI Asia Cup. Four matches will be played in Pakistan while the remaining 9 matches will be held in Sri Lanka.
The first match in the event will be between hosts Pakistan and Nepal in Multan on August 30 and the match of the tournament between Pakistan and India takes place in the round-robin stage in Kandy on September 2nd, and a potential rematch during the Super 4 stage is planned for September 10th in Colombo.
It will be the first time the two rivals will clash since they met in the T20 Asia Cup last year where Greenshirts won by 5 wickets.
The upcoming tournament will be the first Asia Cup that will be co-hosted by two countries.
The top four teams will qualify for the Super 4 round where the teams will play against each other in league format again and the top two teams will play the final on September 11 in Dubai.
Before the Asia Cup, Pakistan will play a three-match ODI series against Afghanistan also in Sri Lanka on August 22, 24 and 26.
It will be a good series for the Pakistani players for the preparation of not only Asia Cup but also the ODI World Cup that will be played in India in September-October this year.
Sri Lanka are the defending champions of Asia Cup 2022. It was played in a 20-20 format in the UAE. Sri Lanka won the title by beating Pakistan in the final by 23 runs in Dubai.
In 15 Asia Cups, India were the most successful team with 7 titles (1984, 1988, 1991, 1995, 2010, 2016, and 2018). Sri Lanka are behind with six cups (1986, 1997, 2004, 2008, 2014, and 2022). Pakistan remained successful only on two occasions (2000 and 2012).
The Asia Cup was originally scheduled to be held in September 2020, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was rescheduled in Sri Lanka in June 2021. But it was postponed again and Pakistan was chosen to host the tournament.
However, in October 2021, the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) announced that Sri Lanka would host the tournament in 2022 and Pakistan would host the 2023 edition.
On July 21, 2022, the Sri Lanka Cricket Board informed the ACC that they would not be able to host the tournament due to the economic and political crisis in the country.
On July 27, 2022, the ACC confirmed that the tournament would be played in the UAE but Sri Lanka would remain the tournament’s hosts.
Pakistan is a good team to bet on as they have played some intelligent cricket in recent years.
Pakistan is one of the teams which can win the Asia Cup 2023. Pakistan had an unreal World Cup in 2021 where they went to the semifinals before getting eliminated by Australia. They even beat India in the world cup which was the first occurrence in the history of these two nations.
Under the leadership of Babar Azam, Pakistan team’s morale is high. The Green shirts are confident to win their third Asia Cup title.
Pakistani batsmen have the ability and talent, but they need to be selective in shot-making and to understand their roles.
Abdullah Shafiqui, Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq will handle the top order responsibilities. Babar Azam, Muhammad Rizwan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Tayyab Tahir, Salman Agha in the middle order are capable of smashing any bowling line on their day.
Pakistan need aggressive openers who can score at a strike rate of over 130, make use of the power play restrictions with their power hitting and score over 60 runs in the first 10 overs.
Pakistan’s strength is their bowling led by Shaheen Afridi, including Naseem Shah, Harris Rauf and Wasim Junior.
Fast bowlers Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah and spinners Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz and Usama Mir can restrict the opposition batting.
A good performance in the Asia Cup, especially against India, will boost the morale of the Pakistan team that will give confidence in the upcoming World Cup.
If Pakistani batters manage to tackle the Indian spinners, there is no doubt that the Greenshirts can win the Asia Cup.
Co-hosts Sri Lanka can’t be ignored, however. Their spinners, Prabath Jayasuriya, Dinuth Wellalage and Maheesh Theekshana, can destroy any opposition on their home ground.
Last year, favourite Pakistan lost the 20-20 Asia Cup final against Sri Lanka by 23 runs in Dubai. A team that failed to directly qualify for the T20 World Cup lifted that Asia Cup.
A young Sri Lankan side with a huge fighting spirit won the Asia Cup as they made a strong comeback in the tournament after losing the first game against Afghanistan.
Before the final, in the rehearsal match against Sri Lanka, Pakistan were bowled out for just 121 runs. People and the team management were confident that the Greenshirts would bounce back and win the title quite convincingly. But Pakistan were outclassed by the young Sri Lankans in all departments of the game.
In the last year’s Asia Cup, with Iftikhar Ahmed, Asif Ali, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Nawaz and Shadab Khan in the middle and lower middle order, it looked like a very strong batting line up, but all of them failed when it mattered the most. They are rated as hitters who can chase any target with their long hitting, but none of them fulfilled their responsibility.
Fans hope that this time Pakistan team will not repeat last year’s mistakes and will beat the arch rivals India.