Tuesday 22 April 2008 

2008 Asia Cup Preview

The 2008 Asia Cup kicks off on the 28th of April, which will run on to the 12th of May and will be hosted in Pakistan. Pierce Morley-Barnes previews the action.

Previously, in 2004 the tournament was won by Sri Lanka who edged out India by 25 runs in Colombo.

This tournament will not be taken lightly as India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh are joined by minnows Hong Kong and United Arab Emirates.

Group A will be fought out between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, both will be looking for the top spot and it will be interesting to see if Bangladesh can rise to the challenge.

Bangladesh have just come off the back of a 5-0 ODI defeat to Pakistan, but it is not all doom and gloom. Shakib Al Hasan scored a century in the fourth match and is showing a lot of promise, along with the exciting talent of Tamim Iqbal. Mashrafe Mortaza is still in the hunt of a new ball partner, Shahadat Hossain and Syed Rasel need to step up to the mark and allow Bangladesh to have a more feared opening attack.

They have enough talent to mount a decent run in the Cup, but need to gel more regularly and have their batsman moving their 20’s and 30’s into centuries, with their bowlers fighting hard and bowling good areas.

Likewise, Sri Lanka are going into the Asia Cup on the back of a 2-0 defeat to the West Indies. Positives to come out of that tour were the batting of Chamara Kapugedera and the bowling of Nuwan Kulasekara and Ajantha Mendis. The Sri Lankan Cricket Board will not underestimate the minnows in this cup after their loss to the West Indies. They will call back experienced heads and look to retain the trophy for the second consecutive time.

In their home back yard, Pakistan will be feeling confident of securing the Asia Cup. They have just trashed Bangladesh with a number of new faces in the squad, just showing the world that Pakistani domestic cricket standard is good and they are bringing in names of the future.

Salman Butt will be looking to keep his superb form up after hitting 451 runs in five games against Bangladesh. More will be asked of captain Shoaib Malik and Misbah-ul-Haq, who had quiet series with the bat. Pakistan will be happy with their bowling options, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul and Iftikhar Anjum may head a new era attack without the likes of Shoaib Akhtar in the side.

India will be more the ready for the Cup, after a unbelievable win in the Commonwealth Bank Series over Sri Lanka and more importantly, Australia. Gautam Gambhir was a revelation in the top order for the Indians and looked world class throughout. India boast what is probably the best batting line up in the world, in all forms of cricket. Talented youngsters in Piyush Chawla, Rohit Sharma and Ishant Sharma will all look to continue their bright starts to their international careers. Sharma has probably been the most impressive bowler and really has become the man to go to with the ball. He possesses great pace and has what it takes to survive at the top level.
The minnows in this tournament will be looking to cause a shock upset. Hong Kong and United Arab Emirates continue to progress as cricketing nations, but I do not see them being able to win a game in the Cup.

This years Cup will go down to the wire. In my opinion, rivals Pakistan and India will battle it out head to head for the trophy. Both have the class throughout their side to beat each other on their day, so it will be a close and interesting contest for all when the tournament kicks off.

© Cricket World 2008

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