In the world of cricket, the Asia Cup is a prestigious event that showcases the talent and competitiveness of Asian cricketing nations. The 2023 Asia Cup, also known as the Super 11 Asia Cup for sponsorship reasons, is the 16th edition of the men’s Asia Cup. This article will delve into the details of this exciting tournament, its history, format, and the challenges it faced along the way.
The Asia Cup Unveiled
The 2023 Asia Cup was held between August 30 and September 17, 2023, with Pakistan as the official host. It was a unique edition as it took place in both Pakistan and Sri Lanka. This marked the first time the Asia Cup was hosted across multiple countries. Pakistan hosted four matches, while Sri Lanka hosted the remaining nine, making it an intriguing and logistically challenging event.
Six teams participated in the tournament, each vying for the prestigious title. Sri Lanka, the defending champions, aimed to retain their crown. The participating teams included Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. Notably, Nepal earned their spot by winning the 2023 ACC Men’s Premier Cup, an achievement that added excitement to the tournament.
The Hybrid Format
One of the most significant innovations in the 2023 Asia Cup was the introduction of a hybrid format. This meant that matches were organized in two countries, with all teams playing at least a few games in Pakistan. However, India declined to travel to Pakistan due to government disapproval, leading to a unique situation.
Pathway and Schedule
The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) announced the pathway and calendar for 2023 and 2024 in January 2023, finalizing the tournament’s dates and format. Originally scheduled for 2021, the tournament was postponed to 2023 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fixtures for the tournament were announced in July 2023, setting the stage for an exciting competition.
The squads for the participating teams were filled with talent and promise. However, injuries and changes occurred throughout the tournament. Here are the squads for the teams:
|Afghanistan||Hashmatullah Shahidi (c), Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Ibrahim Zadran, Riaz Hassan, Rahmat Shah, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Ikram Alikhil (wk), Rashid Khan, Gulbadin Naib, Karim Janat, Abdul Rahman, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Mohammad Saleem, Fazalhaq Farooqi|
|Bangladesh||Shakib Al Hasan (c), Litton Das (vc), Anamul Haque, Tanzid Hasan, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Towhid Hridoy, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mehidy Hasan, Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman, Hasan Mahmud, Mohammad Naim, Mahedi Hasan, Nasum Ahmed, Shamim Hossain, Ebadot Hossain, Afif Hossain, Shoriful Islam, Tanzim Hasan Sakib|
|India||Rohit Sharma (c), Hardik Pandya (vc), Jasprit Bumrah, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishan Kishan (wk), Prasidh Krishna, Virat Kohli, Axar Patel, KL Rahul, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Tilak Varma, Kuldeep Yadav, Suryakumar Yadav, Rohit Paudel (c), Aasif Sheikh (wk), Dipendra Singh Airee, Kushal Bhurtel, Mousom Dhakal, Pratis GC, Gulsan Jha, Sundeep Jora, Karan KC, Sompal Kami, Sandeep Lamichhane, Kishor Mahato, Kushal Malla, Lalit Rajbanshi, Aarif Sheikh, Arjun Saud (wk), Bhim Sharki|
|Nepal||Rohit Paudel (c), Aasif Sheikh (wk), Dipendra Singh Airee, Kushal Bhurtel, Mousom Dhakal, Pratis GC, Gulsan Jha, Sundeep Jora, Karan KC, Sompal Kami, Sandeep Lamichhane, Kishor Mahato, Kushal Malla, Lalit Rajbanshi, Aarif Sheikh, Arjun Saud (wk), Bhim Sharki|
|Pakistan||Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan (vc), Salman Ali Agha, Shaheen Afridi, Iftikhar Ahmed, Faheem Ashraf, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Haris, Zaman Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Usama Mir, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Abdullah Shafique, Saud Shakeel, Naseem Shah, Mohammad Wasim, Fakhar Zaman|
|Sri Lanka||Dasun Shanaka (c), Kusal Mendis (vc, wk), Pathum Nissanka, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Perera, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Maheesh Theekshana, Dunith Wellalage, Matheesha Pathirana, Kasun Rajitha, Dushan Hemantha, Binura Fernando, Pramod Madushan|
These were the squads that participated in the 2023 Asia Cup, representing their respective countries.
The journey to the 2023 Asia Cup was not without its challenges. In 2020, there were discussions about hosting the 2020 edition in Sri Lanka due to India’s reluctance to travel to Pakistan. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic further complicated matters, leading to multiple postponements.
In October 2022, India’s decision not to travel to Pakistan raised concerns about the tournament’s future location. However, in January 2023, the ACC confirmed the participation of both India and Pakistan, bringing relief to cricket fans.
The Proposed Hybrid Model
In March 2023, Pakistan proposed a hybrid model for the tournament. This proposal involved India playing all their matches at a neutral venue, with Pakistan hosting the rest of the teams. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh initially rejected this idea but later agreed to it, ensuring the tournament’s continuity.
The Hybrid Model in Action
On June 15, 2023, the Asian Cricket Council officially announced the tournament’s hybrid model. Four matches were scheduled to be held in Pakistan, with the remaining nine taking place in Sri Lanka. This format added an extra layer of complexity to the tournament’s logistics.
Format and Groups
The format of the tournament was announced on January 9, 2023. The six teams were divided into two groups of three. A total of 13 matches were to be played, including league matches, Super 4 matches, and a final. The top two teams from each group would progress to the Super 4 stage, culminating in an exciting final showdown.
Teams and Qualification
The five full members of the Asian Cricket Council automatically qualified for the tournament, while Nepal secured their spot through the 2023 ACC Men’s Premier Cup. This event, held in Nepal in April/May 2023, saw Nepal defeat UAE in the final, earning their place in the Asia Cup.
Squads and Changes
The squads for the participating teams were filled with talent and promise. However, injuries and changes occurred throughout the tournament. Players like Ebadot Hossain, Liton Das, and Najmul Hossain Shanto faced injuries, impacting their teams’ dynamics.
Super Four Showdown
As the tournament reached its climax, India became the first team to qualify for the final. Their victory against Sri Lanka showcased their dominance. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, earned their place in the final after a rain-disrupted match against Pakistan.
The Points Table
Throughout the tournament, the points table witnessed thrilling battles. India and Sri Lanka emerged as the top contenders, securing their spots in the final. Pakistan and Bangladesh had their moments but fell short of reaching the ultimate showdown.