The 2023 Asia Cup will be played in Pakistan and Sri Lanka from August 30 to September 17. With the ODI World Cup less than two months away, the tournament will serve as a dress rehearsal for Asia’s top cricketing nations.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the Asia Cup 2023 tournament:
HISTORY OF THE ASIA CUP - WINNERS AND HOSTS
Billed as one of the biggest tournaments in international cricket, the history of the Asia Cup traces back to 1984 when India, under skipper Sunil Gavaskar, won the inaugural edition held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The tournament has since had 15 editions - the last of them being in 2022 in the UAE. Sri Lanka beat Pakistan by 23 runs in the final held in Dubai.
Most successful team: India is the most successful team in the history of the continental tournament, having won the title seven times. While India clinched top honours in 1984, 1988, 1990-91, 1995, 2010, 2016 and 2018, the Lankans emerged victorious in 1986, 1997, 2004, 2008, 2014 and 2022. Pakistan has won the title twice (2000, 2012).
Hosts: Bangladesh has hosted the Asia Cup the most number of times (5). UAE has played host on four occasions, with the 2022 edition being the latest. Meanwhile, India has only hosted the tournament once in 1990-91, when it clinched its third title after beating Sri Lanka in the final in Kolkata. Sri Lanka will draw level with Bangladesh when it hosts the event for the fifth time in 2023. Pakistan will host the tournament for the second time.
ASIA CUP 2023 - RETURN OF THE ODI FORMAT
The 2023 Asia Cup will be played in the 50-over ODI format. The last time the tournament was played in the ODI format was in 2018, when India beat Bangladesh in the summit clash by three wickets in Dubai.
WHY IS ASIA CUP 2023 BEING PLAYED IN TWO COUNTRIES?
While Pakistan will remain the official host of the tournament, the Asia Cup will be held in two different countries for the first time in its history. The tournament will be played in a hybrid model, with Pakistan hosting four games and Sri Lanka nine. This comes in the wake of BCCI refusing to play in Pakistan owing to political tensions between the two countries.
WHAT IS THE FORMAT OF ASIA CUP 2023
The 2023 Asia Cup will be contested by six teams - India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
In the group stage of the tournament, the six teams will be divided into two groups of three each. The teams in one group will play each other in a single round-robin format. The top two teams from each group will advance to the Super Fours, where the four teams will clash against each other in a single round-robin format. The top two teams after the Super Four stage will qualify for the final.
India, Nepal and Pakistan are in Group A while Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan comprise Group B.
HOW MANY TIMES WILL INDIA AND PAKISTAN MEET IN ASIA CUP 2023?
India and Pakistan will face off on September 2 in Pallekele in a Group A match. Provided there are no upsets in the group stage, the two teams will meet again in the Super Four stage. If both India and Pakistan finish in the top two of the Super Fours, they will set up a tantalising final - which will be their third meeting in the tournament.
India: The Men in Blue come into the tournament ranked third in the ICC Men’s ODI Team Rankings. India won its last ODI series 2-1 against West Indies in the Caribbean after losing to Australia 1-2 at home. The Rohit Sharma-led side started the year on a high - sweeping Sri Lanka and New Zealand 3-0 at home. India has won nine of its 12 matches this year.
Pakistan: The Babar Azam-led side will be the highest ranked team in the tournament - placed second in the ICC Men’s ODI Team Rankings. Pakistan has played eight ODIs this year - all at home and all against New Zealand - and has won five of them. It lost a three-match series 1-2 against the Black Caps in January before settling scores with a 4-1 win against them in May.
Sri Lanka: The host won the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier event in Zimbabwe - where it won all eight of its matches - albeit against lower-ranked oppositions. It is on a 10-match unbeaten streak in ODIs, but began the year with 0-3 and 0-2 series defeats against India and New Zealand, respectively. It lost to Afghanistan in the first ODI of a three-match series at home before bouncing back to clinch it 2-1.
Bangladesh: The Tigers have been a strong side in the 50-over format of late, especially at home. They beat India in a three-match series 2-1 last year and also managed to pinch a victory against England while losing the series 1-2. After beating Ireland with identical scorelines 2-0 in back-to-back series, first at home and then away, Bangladesh suffered a shock 1-2 defeat against Afghanistan at home last month.
Afghanistan: Considered the perennial dark horse ahead of every tournament, Afghanistan will hope to do better than pulling off an upset here and there or just playing party-spoiler. The team is coming off a remarkable 2-1 series win in Bangladesh after upsetting Sri Lanka in the first match of a three-match series. However, having played just six ODIs in 2023, the Afghans might be a little short on preparation for an event like the Asia Cup.
Nepal: Led by 20-year old Rohit Paudel, Nepal has enjoyed a fruitful year in ODIs, winning 15 out of 20 matches. The team was buoyed by a stellar string of performances in the World Cup League 2 event, where it won 11 of its last 12 matches to secure qualification for the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe. While winning a game in the Asia Cup will be a bridge too far for the 15th-ranked side, Nepal will hope to show it belongs at the big stage.
ASIA CUP 2023 SCHEDULE
ASIA CUP 2023 SQUADS
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