It’s called evolution. And some call it “necessary”. Some think it’s the bastardization of the gentleman’s game.
Because perhaps there has been no greater indicator of cricket adapting to the changing, impatient times than this: the Asia Cup, traditionally a 50-over tournament, is now a T20 international tournament. The first of its kind, in its 13th edition.
Imagine: the days of an ODI World Cup being done away with may not be too far away. And perhaps next month’s T20 World Cup is the beginning of the end for ODIs? Time will tell. In the meantime, Sachin Tendulkar is the best cricketer in the history of a format that may be extinct very soon.
For now, one wonders if Sri Lanka is still the rightful defending Champion of the Asia Cup. They won it in its ODI format in 2014, and they also won the T20 World Cup that year – but let’s treat this edition as an inaugural version. The future, whether you like it or not, is here.
4 teams are automatic qualifiers – India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh (the hosts, once again). This time, the qualifying tournament was held for four ‘minnows’ – UAE, Afghanistan, Oman and Hong Kong. While Afghanistan was everyone’s favorite to qualify over the three games, it was UAE who snuck through with a sensational 100% winning record – defeating Afghanistan in the tie that mattered.
The first match, just like the 2011 ODI World Cup, will be played between India and Bangladesh at Mirpur. UAE will play all four big boys, and gain valuable experience to further the belief that cricket must have a bigger pool of countries.
India vs Bangladesh
Sri Lanka vs UAE
Winner: Sri Lanka
Bangladesh vs UAE
India vs Pakistan
Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka
Pakistan vs UAE
India vs Sri Lanka
Winner: Sri Lanka
Bangladesh vs Pakistan
India vs UAE
Pakistan vs Sri Lanka
India (3 out of 4 wins) vs Pakistan (3 out of 4 wins)
Third Place: Bangladesh (2 wins)
Fourth Place: Sri Lanka (2 wins)
Last: UAE (0 wins)
It’s highly likely that a revamped, Mohammad Amir-powered Pakistan T20 team could surprise the others. They have always been dangerous in the shortest format. Sri Lanka, now with Malinga, Mathews and Dilshan back, are known to pull it up in ICC tournaments, and will face Pakistan in a virtual semi-final in the last group match. If they win that one somehow, we could once again be in for an India vs Sri Lanka final. Either way, India looks settled and like favorites – what with their top ranking and good form (5 wins out of their last 6) coming into this.