The six best teams in Asia are set to tussle it out for the continent’s biggest prize when the 2018 Asia Cup gets underway in Dubai on Saturday.
Established in 1984, the biennial tournament has served up plenty of titanic clashes as well as some superb individual performances. This year, the tournament reverts to its original 50-over avatar after the 2016 edition was held in the Twenty20 format.
Here, we take a look at some of the interesting numbers and statistics from the tournament’s 24-year history.
183 – The highest individual score by any batsman in the Asia Cup. That innings was notched up by Virat Kohli at Dhaka in the 2012 edition against India’s arch-rivals Pakistan. It is also Kohli’s highest ODI total of his career.
1220 – The number of runs accumulated by the tournament’s all-rime leading run-scorer. That accolade belongs to Sri Lanka’s Sanath Jayasuriya who notched up the runs between 1990 and 2008 in 25 matches at an average of over 53.
30 – Is the number of wickets claimed by the tournament’s all-time leading wicket-taker. Here too, a Sri Lankan takes the honours with off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan being the holder of the record. The legendary spinner picked up the haul between 1995 and 2010.
95.16 – Is the batting average of India’s MS Dhoni in the tournament. The India wicket-keeper batsman’s average is the highest among any player who has played a minimum of 10 innings in the tournament’s history. In 12 ODI innings in the tournament, Dhoni has aggregated a total of 615 runs with the help of a ton and three half-centuries.
3 – Is the most number of ducks accumulated by any batsman in the tournament’s history. The infamous record belongs to three players – Pakistan’s Salman Butt, Bangladesh’s Aminul Islam and Sri Lanka’s Mahela Jayawardane.
6-13 – Best figures by any bowler in the tournament. These figures were achieved by Sri Lanka’s mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis against India at Karachi in the final of the 2008 edition. Remarkably, the Sri Lankan spinner conceded only 13 runs in his eight overs when he picked up that match-winning haul.
6 – Most number of titles won by any single team in the tournament. India are the most successful team in the tournament with six titles to their name. They are followed by Sri Lanka who has won it five times while Pakistan have laid their hands on the trophy on two occasions.
87 – The lowest ODI total by any team in the tournament. It was achieved by Bangladesh in the 2000 edition in their clash against Pakistan.
385 – The highest ODI total by any team in the tournament. This accolade belongs to Pakistan who racked up 385-7 in their clash against Bangladesh at Dambulla in the 2010 edition.
224 – The highest partnership for any wicket in the tournament’s history. It was notched by the Pakistan pair of Mohammad Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed against India in the 2012 edition at Dhaka. The two batsmen put on the partnership for the opening wicket.
2000 – The year in which India failed to make the final of the tournament for the first time in its history. It was Sri Lanka and Pakistan who advanced to the final on that occasion.
2014 – The year in which Afghanistan entered the tournament for the first time.
The South African pacer was included in the 16-man squad for the upcoming ODI series against Zimbabwe which gets underway on September 30.
The 35-year-old has had rotten luck with regards to injury over the past two years. He was sidelined for almost a year after fracturing his shoulder South Africa’s 2016-17 tour of Australia. When he did finally make his much awaited comeback in the first Test against India at the start of the year, Steyn suffered another freakish toe injury which triggered another extended spell on the sidelines.
The Proteas pacer then made his return competitive cricket for Hampshire in the County Championship this summer before being included in South Africa’s Test squad for the tour of Sri Lanka.
The fast-bowling stalwart had recently expressed his desire to put on the South Africa jersey for the 2019 World Cup in England. Therefore, Steyn’s return to the ODI fold for the first time since October, 2016 augurs well for his chances of fulfilling that dream.
The Proteas' ODI squad v Zimbabwe has just been announced!— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) September 14, 2018
F du Plessis, H Amla, JP Duminy, R Hendricks, I Tahir, Christiaan Jonker, H Klaasen, K Maharaj, A Markram, W Mulder, L Ngidi, A Phehlukwayo, K Rabada, T Shamsi , D Steyn, K Zondo. #ProteaFire pic.twitter.com/SfWLjG3yuz
Christiaan Jonker is the only new face in the 16-man squad announced on Friday with Quinton de Kock and David Miller being given a rest.
Faf du Plessis continues to lead the Proteas side despite struggling with a shoulder injury sustained on the tour of Sri Lanka. The South African skipper’s availability for the series is subject to fitness tests and a replacement will be named in case he is unable to recover in time.
The three ODIs between hosts Zimbabwe and South Africa will be followed by as many T20Is.
Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, Reeza Hendricks, Imran Tahir, Christiaan Jonker, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Khaya Zondo.
Faf du Plessis (c), Gihahn Cloete, Junior Dala, Quinton de Kock (wk), JP Duminy, Robbie Frylinck, Imran Tahir, Jonker, Klaasen (wk), David Miller, Ngidi, Dane Paterson, Phehlukwayo, Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen.
The Dubai International Cricket stadium will be the setting for the Group B clash between the two teams who are separated by just eight rating points in the ICC ODI rankings.
Sri Lanka are the second most successful team in the tournament’s history with five titles to their name while Bangladesh are searching for their maiden Asia Cup trophy.
INJURIES RAVAGE BOTH TEAMS
The two teams are both dealing with injury concerns of their own coming into the tournament opener. For Bangladesh, star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan is nursing a finger injury for which he has deferred the surgery until the completion of the tournament. Opening batsman Tamim Iqbal is also struggling with a bruised finger with Mominul Haque called up to the squad as backup.
The third injury relates to off-spinner Nazmul Hossain who is recovering from an injury to his bowling hand.
Sri Lanka too are not without their troubles in the injury department with opener Danushka Gunathilaka being sent home after sustaining a lower-back problem. In his place, 27-year-old Shehan Jayasuriya has been called up as a replacement. The islanders have already lost the services of regular skipper Dinesh Chandimal who had been ruled out of the tournament due to a finger injury. In his stead, wicketkeeper batsman Niroshan Dickwella has been called up the squad with all-rounder Angelo Mathews being named as the stand-in skipper.
LASITH MALINGA COMEBACK ON THE HORIZON
Plenty of heads were turned after veteran Lasith Malinga was named in the Sri Lanka squad for the tournament.
The 35-year-old’s last appearance in Sri Lanka colours came in a T20I against India more than a year ago. The clamour for his return had been growing in recent times and his international comeback is expected to grab plenty of eyeballs. It remains to be seen if Mathews picks the veteran pacer in the playing XI but if he does, expect those famous searing yorkers and slower balls to make an appearance soon.
Malinga did not play in the last edition of the IPL after being moved to a bowling mentor’s role with his franchise Mumbai Indians. He will not be short of match practice for the Asia Cup though given his recent participation in the Sri Lanka Cricket T20 League for Kandy.
Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal, Liton Das, Mominul Haque, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah, Mashrafe Mortaza (C), Mosaddek Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman and Mehidy Hasan.
Sri Lanka: Kusal Perera , Upul Tharanga, Niroshan Dickwella, Angelo Mathews (C), Dhananjaya de Silva, Dasun Shanaka, Thisara Perera, Dilruwan Perera, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal, and Kusal Mendis.
VENUE – Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai
Time – 15:30 GST