Kohli less India start favourites in title defense

Author : Salman Khan 15 Sep, 2018


The Asia Cup will return to the shores of the United Arab Emirates - where the tournament was first played in 1984 - after a gap of 23 years. The 13-day tournament will feature six teams for the first time and will follow the One-Day International format ahead of the 50-over World Cup in England next year. So, which team is favourites to win this battle for continental supremacy?

India

While the defending champions are without their regular skipper Virat Kohli, India has enough quality in their ranks to fill the void like they did in the Nidahas Trophy earlier in the year. India have won as many as six titles - the most since the tournament's inception - but their primary concern will be to fix their middle-order problems. Despite the middle-muddle, India has won 19 of their last 25 ODIs and will once again be the favourites to clinch the tournament.

Pakistan

Pakistan surprised everyone by picking six fast bowling options for the placid surfaces of UAE, which has been Pakistan's adopted home for a few years. Under Sarfraz Ahmed, Pakistan have shown that they can win big tournaments when they handed India a heavy defeat in the Champions Trophy final last year. The red-hot form of Fakhar Zaman will be a huge boost for the two-time champions.

Sri Lanka

The five-time champions have had one of their worst runs in ODIs. Since January 2017, they have lost 28 out of 39 games in the format and have rejigged leaders before finally going to the tried and tested Angelo Mathews. During their slump in ODIs, they have shown glimpses of their potential especially in a thumping seven-wicket win over India in the Champions Trophy in 2017 and a recent mammoth win against the Proteas. Given their ability to rally and run teams close in big tournaments, expect Sri Lanka to spring surprises.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh have finished runners-up twice in the last three editions and will look to get past the final hurdle this time around. They however have to negotiate a tricky group alongside Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. The form of their seniors - Tamim Iqbal, Mashrafe Mortaza, Mahmudullah, Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim - will determine how far can they go in this tournament. A 62.5 % winning record in 2018 will certainly put them in good stead in search of an elusive title win.

Afganistan

After capping their first ODI series win in Ireland, Asghar Afghan's team will be raring to go in this six-team tournament. In a fairy story, Afghanistan, after turning their dismal World Cup Qualifier campaign around, sealed a spot in the next year's World Cup and hence will be looking at this tournament as a dress rehearsal for the mega event.

Hong Kong

After losing their ODI status this year, Hong Kong's confidence will be low but they would want to prove that they aren't here to just make up the numbers. This will be their third appearance in the tournament, where their main agenda would be to put up brave performances which will help them regain their ODI status.

Related posts

Loading...