Asia Cup 2023 – India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Nepal in action

Asia Cup 2023 – India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Nepal in action

Asia Cup 2023 – Where, when, who, what, and everything else

All you need to know about the upcoming tournament in Pakistan and Sri Lanka

Ashish Pant

24-Aug-2023 • 15 hrs ago

Dravid: Would be ‘fantastic’ if India meet Pakistan three times in Asia Cup

Wasn’t there an Asia Cup just last year?
Indeed, but that was a T20 tournament ahead of the 2022 T20 World Cup. The tournament changes format depending on the upcoming ICC tournament, you see. So this year’s Asia Cup is of the 50-over variety and it begins on August 30, a little more than a month before the ODI World Cup kicks off in India on October 5.

A little bit of background, please?
Outside of ICC events, the Asia Cup is the biggest international limited-overs tournament, played between the top sides in Asia. Since 1984, when the first one was held, there have been 15 editions.

Sri Lanka are the reigning champions, having beaten Pakistan in the 2022 final. India were eliminated in the Super Fours last year; that’s the second stage of the competition. It was Sri Lanka’s sixth Asia Cup title. India have won it seven times, while Pakistan have won it twice.

So which teams are taking part this year?
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – the five Full Members from Asia – and Nepal.

Nepal! Have they played the Asia Cup before?
They haven’t, and will be making their debut this year. Nepal are a rising force in Associate cricket. They qualified for the Asia Cup by winning the ACC Men’s Premier Cup in Nepal in April-May. The qualifying tournament had ten teams and Nepal beat UAE in the final by seven wickets. Nepal are currently ranked 15th in the ICC ODI rankings and will be led by the 20-year-old Rohit Paudel at the Asia Cup.

So how does the tournament work?
The six teams will be divided into two groups. Group A has India, Nepal and Pakistan. Group B has Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Each team will play the others in their group once and the top two from each group will progress to the Super Four round. The four teams there will play each other once, and the top two will qualify for the final.

It starts on August 30 with Pakistan taking on Nepal in Multan, and the final is on September 17. The tournament comprises 13 matches, including the final.

Multan? So Pakistan are hosting the Asia Cup?
Where do we begin?! Pakistan were the designated hosts, but India weren’t going to travel there. There was a LOT of back and forth, and eventually a hybrid model was finalised. So Pakistan (Lahore and Multan) will host only four games, while Sri Lanka (Pallekele and Colombo) will host nine, including the final.

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When was the last time India and Pakistan played an ODI?
It has been a while – the 2019 ODI World Cup in England. And now they might face each other three times in two-and-a-half weeks. They play their Group A game on September 2 in Pallekele, and unless one of them lose to Nepal, it’s likely they will meet in the Super Four round as well. And if they finish No. 1 and 2 in the Super Four round, we’ll have an India-Pakistan final for the first time in an Asia Cup.

Of course they did meet twice in last year’s T20 Asia Cup: India won their first clash by five wickets and with two balls to spare, and Pakistan won the Super Four game by five wickets and with one ball to spare. And in the T20 World Cup that followed, a Virat Kohli masterclass clinched India a thriller in Melbourne.

Are there any other rivalries besides India-Pakistan?
Going by last year’s tournament, there is plenty of spice to look forward to. Remember Afghanistan’s heated game against Pakistan, where Asif Ali and Fareed Ahmad almost came to blows? There’s always some needle when those two teams play each other. Likewise when Sri Lanka and Bangladesh face off – remember the Naagin dance? And with Afghanistan having beaten Bangladesh in their own backyard recently, that’s another contest to keep an eye on.

What’s the weather going to be like?
It will be humid in Sri Lanka and the forecast is for a few showers, but there shouldn’t be major disruptions. Rain should not be a problem in Multan or Lahore.

So when do the matches begin, and where can we watch them?
All the Asia Cup games will start at 3pm IST, which is 2pm in Afghanistan, 2.30pm in Pakistan, 3pm in Sri Lanka, 3.15 pm in Nepal, 3.30pm in Bangladesh and 9.30am GMT.

If you are in India, Sri Lanka, and some other parts of the subcontinent, you can watch the Asia Cup on the Star Sports network, while the games will also be streamed on Disney+ Hotstar. In Pakistan, PTV Sports and Ten Sports have broadcasting rights. In Bangladesh, it’s on T Sports and Gazi TV.

ESPNcricinfo and Disney Star are part of the Walt Disney Company.

AfghanistanNepalBangladeshSri LankaPakistanIndiaAsia Cup

Ashish Pant is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo

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