Asia Cup 2018: The tournament played in every two years is the biggest cricketing battle in Asia as the sub-continental giants lock horns for Asian supremacy. The tournament in 2018 is being held in the United Arab Emirates. The tournament was first held way back in 1984, which means the tournament is coming back home after 34 years. The inaugural edition was played in this very country. The tournament will have six teams take part. Hong Kong comes into the tournament as the qualifier.
In this article, we will pick one player to watch out for from all the six participating nations.
The Bangladeshi opener is undoubtedly the mainstay of the team and he is destructive, also has the experience. He could hold the key to their success, if he gets going, Bangladesh will always look like a formidable unit. Bangladesh has come close on a number of occasions in the past to win a major trophy but has failed, eventually. Be it the 2012 Asia Cup Final, the 2016 Asia Cup T20 Final or the 2018 Nidahas Trophy Final. Bangladesh are serious contenders for the title as they have a good mix of youth and experience. Experienced players like Shakib, Mushfiqur, Mashrafe, and Mahmudullah also have to contribute if Bangladesh wants to go deep into the competition.
Undoubtedly one of the best wrist spinners in the business. He is a big player for Afghanistan and if they can optimise his skills, like use him at the right time and manage him well, Afghanistan could cause a few upsets. Afghanistan also boasts of explosive hitters in their arsenal in the form of Mohammed Shahzad and Mohammed Nabi. But all said and done, it has to be Rashid Khan coming good for Afghanistan if they want a good run in the tournament.
In the twilight of his career, MS Dhoni would have to perform to keep criticism away. He has led India to victory in the same tournament and with Virat Kohli not around, Dhoni will also have to guide Rohit Sharma and the entire team as this is a less-experienced Indian outfit. Hence, he would be a key component in the Indian set up. It would also be interesting to see where he opts to bat in the XI.
He has been one of the best fast bowlers in limited overs history. No one can bowl yorkers at will like he does. But, now that he is almost done in his career and this could be his farewell tournament, it would be even more interesting to see the fitness and shape he is in. If he can get his yorkers right, he could trouble a few top order batsman.
The 24-year old Pakistani bowler is certainly ahead of his years. He also happens to be one of the biggest factors for Pakistan’s resurgence in world cricket. If he can combine well with Mohammed Aamir, Pakistan then could be red-hot in the tournament. Pakistan, in any which way, walk into the tournament like India as favourites. In UAE alone, he has taken 17 wickets in just eight matches, at 14.18 runs apiece and an economy rate of 3.79. Those figures are a testament to how lethal he can be in the given conditions.
The 25-year old bowling all-rounder from Hong Kong was the biggest reasons for them making the all-important cut for the Asia Cup 2018. In the qualifiers, he bagged 10 wickets and was the pick of the bowlers. He is no muck with the bat as he can also get you quick runs. With 40 internationals already under his belt, the all-rounder could create an impact and trouble a few world-class batsmen.
With three rounds, the best team would win the tournament.