The 2018 Asia Cup is just less than 10 days away and all the teams that are taking part in the tournament, barring India, have already started their preparations for Asia’s premier ODI tournament. This year, the tournament returns to the 50-over format after it was held in the T20I format because of the 2016 World T20 that was scheduled to start just days after the Asia Cup in 2016.
The United Arab Emirates will host the 2018 edition from September 15 across two venues, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The tournament will feature as many as six teams fighting for the coveted trophy. Defending champions India, their arch-rivals Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan qualified for the tournament directly while the sixth team was decided by a qualifier which had six teams fighting for the final spot. Hong Kong saw off the threat from the qualifier hosts Malaysia, Asia Cup hosts UAE, Singapore, Oman and Nepal and qualified for the tournament.
Hong Kong will be placed in Group A alongside India and Pakistan while Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan will be in Group B. The top two teams from each group will play in the Super Fours and the top two from that stage will qualify for the finals. Going into the tournament, India and Pakistan start as the favourites, thanks to the firepower they possess in their side.
India, led by Rohit Sharma in the absence of Virat Kohli, have named a first-choice side barring Kohli and his absence might hurt India’s chances in the tournament. Pakistan, on the other hand, have all their boxes ticked as they have a fantastic batting order backed up by a lethal bowling line-up which features the likes of Mohammad Amir, Hassan Ali and Shadab Khan. In all likelihood, India will take on Pakistan thrice in the tournament, once in the Group stage, once in Super Fours and once in the final.
Thanks to Kohli’s absence, Pakistan’s form in the format and the fact that the Asia Cup is being played at a venue which is familiar to all the Pakistan players and is completely new to the Indians, it will be wise to put your money on Pakistan to win the 2018 Asia Cup.