An Asia Cup XI featuring the best from the subcontinent

Our correspondents from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka put on their selector hats and pick their composite Asia Cup XIs


Does your favourite player figure in ESPNcricinfo’s Asia Cup XI?

Andrew Fidel Fernando
There’s a bunch of players that pick themselves in a current Asian XI. Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Babar Azam, Rashid Khan, Shaheen Afridi and Shakib Al Hasan. Consistent, proven across conditions, dynamic – you get it. (Although, whether there is room for that many egos on the team bus is another question.) Charith Asalanka is there because the guy averages 44.54 and strikes at 93.28 at No. 5, which is a more specialised position in ODIs these days.

Litton Das gets the nod ahead of Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Kusal Mendis, for having been more consistent than both.

And in a team full of mostly-proven ODI performers, you needed a bolter. Maheesh Theekshana is that guy – capable of delivering tight powerplay overs, operating through the middle period, and shutting down charges at the death. He’s got 36 wickets in 22 innings, with an economy rate of 4.34. Sure, most of his ODI opponents have been on the weaker end of the spectrum, but in T20s he’s bossed the best too.

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And at the time of writing, Haris Rauf just got 5 for 18 on a Sri Lankan deck. So he’s hard to ignore.

Fidel’s Asia Cup XI: 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Litton Das (wk), 3 Babar Azam, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Charith Asalanka, 6 Shakib Al Hasan 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Rashid Khan (capt), 9 Shaheen Afridi, 10 Maheesh Theekshana, 11 Haris Rauf

Sidharth Monga

Selection notes

  • Only those players selected for the Asia Cup have been considered.
  • Shakib Al Hasan and Shreyas Iyer are interchangeable in the order; the middle order is flexible anyway.
  • My fantasy team, my rules: batters don’t play out of position, overall career and potential trump current form, which has been used only as a tiebreaker.
  • The players selected are self-explanatory so it is more important to note who missed out narrowly:
    – Virat Kohli does not bat in the middle order or at the top, so he loses out to Babar Azam at No. 3 on current form (the tiebreaker);
    – Wanindu Hasaranga and Shadab Khan are superb legspin allrounders, but we already have Rashid Khan. Either of the two could easily get into side as the No. 7 too, but my batting allrounders need to give me variety as bowlers, which is why I have picked Shakib, who bowls left-arm spin, and Hardik, who bowls pace;
    – Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah and Taskin Ahmed are three fast bowlers who challenge Siraj’s position, but Siraj has great current form.
  • Don’t @ me. You couldn’t even if you wanted to.

Sidharth’s Asia Cup XI: 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Babar Azam, 4 Shakib Al Hasan, 5 KL Rahul (wk), 6 Shreyas Iyer, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Shaheen Afridi, 10 Mohammed Siraj, 11 Jasprit Bumrah

Whose Asian XI looks the strongest?

7.9K votes

Andrew Fidel Fernando's XI
Sidharth Monga's XI
Danyal Rasool's XI
Mohammed Isam's XI
None of the above!

Danyal Rasool
This is probably not the best XI you could carve out of the talent pool this continent has to offer, but then again, Asia Cup squads have always been more about having fun. If you want cold, hard, calculations and considered decisions after parsing through reams of data and Excel spreadsheets, this tournament is not your spirit animal.

This is a squad where current form trumps legendary status – which, for example, is why Jasprit Bumrah doesn’t round out the attack. The incessant talk of Virat Kohli’s decline imperilled his place briefly, but I’d also like to use social media while preserving my mental health. Also, his recent ODI form actually is extremely good. Following the frenzy of Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Rohit Sharma’s liquid elegance, and the reliability of Babar Azam, Kohli can have the platform he likes from which to launch.

Form is also why Shakib Al Hasan misses out for Charith Asalanka – though genuine quality middle-order batters are surprisingly hard to find these days. Wanindu Hasaranga and Hardik Pandya provide both attacking impetus with the bat and quality all-round options. And once these superstars set you a total, good luck chasing it down against that bowling line-up.

Oh, and Rashid Khan to captain, because I’m not keen on picking between one of Babar and Kohli, despite the latter not having led India since March 2021.

Danyal’s Asia Cup XI: 1 Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Babar Azam, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Charith Asalanka, 6 Wanindu Hasaranga, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Rashid Khan (capt), 9 Shaheen Afridi, 10 Naseem Shah, 11 Haris Rauf

Mohammad Isam
There are many contenders for the opening spots but the prospect of watching Ishan Kishan and Fakhar Zaman batting together is compelling. Despite both being left-handers, they will attack different lengths. And watching them, you wonder what they would say to each other in the middle. The next two batters select themselves but then comes Charith Asalanka, who averages 50-plus after the 30th over in the last two years.

Shadab Khan and Rashid Khan add all-round depth to the batting, and are part of an attack comprising Mohammed Siraj, Taskin Ahmed and Naseem Shah.

Isam’s Asia Cup XI: 1 Ishan Kishan (wk), 2 Fakhar Zaman, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Babar Azam, 5 Charith Asalanka, 6 Shakib Al Hasan, 7 Shadab Khan, 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Naseem Shah, 10 Taskin Ahmed, 11 Mohammed Siraj

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