Battle for Asian supremacy

August 14, 2022

Confident Pakistan can claim glory if their batters manage to tackle Indian spinners in the Asia Cup

Battle for Asian supremacy

The 15th edition of the Asia Cup is scheduled to commence on August 27 in the UAE. The final set to be played on September 11. Six teams will take part in the tournament. Ten matches are to be played in Dubai and three in Sharjah. This time the Asia Cup is being played in Twenty20 format.

India are the defending champions of Asia Cup. They won the title by beating Bangladesh in a last-ball thriller in Dubai in 2018.

Pakistan, India and the team that wins the qualifying tournament will be in Group A. Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bangladesh are in Group B. The UAE, Kuwait, Singapore and Hong Kong will contest for a place in Group A.

Qualifying matches are to be played in Oman from August 20. In the opening match, Singapore meet Hong Kong on August 20.

The first match in the main event will be between hosts Sri Lanka (Sri Lanka was the original venue) and Afghanistan.

The match of the tournament will be played between Pakistan and India on August 28 in Dubai. It will be the first time the two rivals will clash since they met in the T20 World Cup last year.

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.

The tournament 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.

In the last Asia Cup in 2018, Pakistan's performance was pathetic. Batsmen failed to score big, bowling remained unsuccessful and fielders dropped half a dozen catches.

Under the leadership of Babar Azam, Pakistan team's morale is high, especially after beating India in the last year's World Cup by 10 wickets.

Pakistani batsmen have the ability and talent, but they need to be selective in shot-making and to understand their roles.

Babar, Mohammad Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman will handle the top order responsibilities. Khushdil Shah, Haider Ali, Asif Ali and Iftikhar Ahmed in the middle order are capable of smashing any bowling line on their day.

Pakistan will rely on Babar, Rizwan and Fakhar, but there should be a plan B. In the middle order, there are not experienced players, but they should take the responsibility and bat with maturity to rebuild the innings if wickets are lost early in the innings.

All-rounder Shoaib Malik and fast bowler Hasan Ali have been dropped. Malik was an important part of Pakistan cricket team till last year. He also played in the T20 World Cup.

Fast bowlers Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, Shahnawaz Dahani and spinners Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz and Usman Qadir can restrict the strong Indian batting.

India have also named a strong squad for the Asia Cup. Former skipper Virat Kohli is back in the side. He was rested for the recent ODI and T20I series in the West Indies.

Since the T20 World Cup in November last year, Kohli has played only four T20 Internationals but missed 19. In four matches, he scored only 81 runs, averaging 20.

A good performance in the Asia Cup will boost his morale ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia. But if he failed, his fantastic career could end early as India have a strong bench strength, especially in the shortest format of the game.

India will miss the services of fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah who is not in the squad due to an injury. In the absence of Bumrah, India will have to do with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Arshdeep Singh and Avesh Khan.

It is obvious that India will depend heavily on their spinners in the tournament. Veteran Ravichandran Ashwin, left-armer Ravindra Jadeja and leg-spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravi Bishnoi can played decisive role on the UAE pitches.

If Pakistani batters managed to tackle the Indian spinners, there is no doubt that the Greenshirts can win the Asia Cup.

Hosts Sri Lanka can't be ignored, however. Their spinners, Prabath Jayasuriya, Dinuth Wellalage and Maheesh Theekshana, can destroy any opposition on spinners-friendly UAE pitches. They did very well against Australia and Pakistan in the home Test series recently.

Battle for Asian supremacy