Asia Cup 2018 is slated to begin from 15th September with six teams fighting it out for the ultimate prize in the United Arab Emirates. Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan are five prominent teams in the competition. Asia Cup qualifiers are currently taking place in Malaysia and will determine who wins the competition and becomes the sixth team to participate in the upcoming Asia Cup.
In Group A, Pakistan is placed alongside arch-rivals India and winner of Asia Cup Qualifiers. Pakistan certainly looks the in-form side at the moment. Sarfaraz and co. have produced consistently good results over the last one year period. The same squad was that helped Pakistan lift maiden Champions Trophy crown against India at The Oval last year.
Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, and Faheem Ashraf are promising players for Pakistan in the batting department. Zaman also became the first Pakistan batsman to score 200 runs in a limited-overs game and thus broke Saeed Anwar’s record of 194 runs against India. Left-hander has been phenomenal since making his debut for Pakistan in ICC Champions Trophy. He has scored 1065 runs in 18 innings at an average of 76.07 with three centuries to his name. Zaman will be one player to watch out for in this year’s Asia Cup.
Shadab Khan and Hasan Ali have topped the bowling charts for Pakistan in limited-overs cricket. Usman Khan Shinwari, Junaid Khan and Mohammad Amir are three front-line pacers for the side for upcoming Asia Cup.
Reigning champions India will be focused to do well in this competition. Virat Kohli has been rested for Asia Cup as Rohit Sharma will lead India for the competition. Sharma has been an in-form player and will have to shoulder a lot of responsibility in terms of doing the bulk of scoring for India.
Shikhar Dhawan, MS Dhoni, and Lokesh Rahul have been in decent form in the limited-overs format for India. Uncapped Khaleel Ahmed has been picked for the competition. Shardul Thakur, Hardik Pandya, Jaspreet Bumrah are pace options for India. Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, and Kuldeep Yadav are spinners included in the squad for the competition.
In Group B, Sri Lanka is placed alongside Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Sri Lanka will need to produce consistency given the lost the one-day series to South Africa at home. Captain Angelo Matthews will be keen to make sure Sri Lanka gets off to a good start in the competition. Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Perera and Upul Tharanga are prominent players in the batting lineup.
Akila Dhananjaya, Lasith Malinga and Suranga Lakmal are three main options for Sri Lanka in the bowling department.
Afghanistan is certainly a side on a learning curve in the limited-overs cricket. Asghar Afghan will be hoping that his side can certainly pull off surprises in this year’s competition. The batting has done too well in recent times but Mohammad Shahzad, Gulbadin Naib, and Samiullah Shinwari are notable players in the batting department. Afghanistan’s main strength lies in the spin department with Rashid Khan, Mujeeb ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi forming a lethal combination to stifle the opposition batsmen.
Bangladesh will come into the competition on the back successful tour of West Indies. Captain Mashrafe Mortaza will be hoping that Bangladesh can do well in this year’s Asia Cup. Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, and Mahmudullah are premier players in the batting lineup. Mehedi Hasan Miraaz, Mustafizur Rahman and Rubel Hossain are experienced bowlers included in the squad.
Iqbal has certainly topped the batting charts for Bangladesh in limited-overs cricket and averages 74.06 since Jan 2017. Mahmudullah and Shakib have produced impressive numbers with the bat during this period.