The much-awaited Asia Cup 2018 will kickstart in UAE from September 15 when Bangladesh and Sri Lanka take on each other in the first match in Dubai.
Unlike the 2016 edition, which was held in a T20 format, this year’s tournament marks the return of the 50-over format. India are the defending champions, and are the most successful team in the tournament’s history.
Ahead of the curtain-raiser on Saturday, here’s everything you wish to know about the biggest cricketing tournament in Asia.
Teams: The tournament will be played out between six teams, out of which five were confirmed and one came in through qualification. India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan were the nations who were sure-shot to feature. They will be joined in this edition by Hong Kong, who beat UAE in the final of the qualifier.
Most successful team: It won’t come as a surprise that India is the most successful team in Asia Cup’s history. The Men in Blue have won this event six times, with five of those coming in 50-over format, and the other in the T20 format, which took place in 2016. Second in the list is Sri Lanka, who have won this tournament five times. The only other country to taste success in Asia Cup is Pakistan, who have won the competition twice, with their last win coming in 2012.
Format: Unlike the 2016 edition, which was played in T20 format due to the T20 World Cup 2016, this year will witness the comeback of the 50-over format. The six teams have been divided in two groups of three. Group A has Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan in it, whereas Group B sees arch-rivals India and Pakistan pitted against each other, with Hong Kong filling the numbers.
Asia Cup 2018 full schedule
15th September: Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka (Dubai)
16th September: Pakistan vs Hong Kong (Dubai)
17th September: Sri Lanka vs Afghanistan (Abu Dhabi)
18th September: India vs Hong Kong (Dubai)
19th September: India vs Pakistan (Dubai)
20th September: Bangladesh vs Afghanistan (Abu Dhabi)
21st September: Group A Winner vs Group B Runner-up (Dubai)
21st September: Group B Winner vs Group A Runner-up (Abu Dhabi)
23rd September: Group A Winner vs Group A Runner-up (Dubai)
23rd September: Group B Winner vs Group B Runner-up (Abu Dhabi)
25th September: Group A Winner vs Group B Winner (Dubai)
26th September: Group A Runner-up vs Group B Runner-up (Abu Dhabi)
Asia Cup Cricket Tournament 2018 Final
28th September: Asia Cup 2018 Final (Dubai)
Note: All the matches will begin at 1700 hrs IST.
All the teams will play their other group members, following which the top-two finishing teams will qualify for Super-four. In this round, a total of six matches will be played as all the four teams will play against each other to determine the finalists. The final will be played in Dubai on September 28.
Predictions: India will start the tournament as favorite, despite missing the services of skipper Virat Kohli. Though, they must expect tough competition from Sarfraz Ahmed’s Pakistan, who won the ICC Champions Trophy 2017.
Then there are Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, who have quality in them, but don’t seem much capable of posing threat to other two.
Finally, Hong Kong will be expected to the the chance of fighting against the best teams in the world, though, expecting them to spring a surprise is far-fetched.