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Asia Cup 2018: Desert before the main course
Asia Cup 2018 will witness subcontinental rivalry resume once again, but this time in the Middle East. India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Hong Kong will battle among themselves for the coveted title. India have been the most successful team with six titles including the only time it was played in the Twenty20 format, in 2016. However, the other teams in the event will be no pushovers will be looking forward to make a mark at the 13th edition of the tournament. Before the event kickstarts on Saturday, let’s take a look at all the teams
India: Defending champions India boasts of a strong all-around contingent despite the absence of skipper Virat Kohli. Rohit Sharma will lead the team in his place. Sharma will be one of the key players to watch out for with an impressive record in the limited formats. Spin twins Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal will be equally crucial on the drier UAE tracks. Young Khaleel Ahmed, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar will bolster the seam attack.
India Squad: Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Khaleel Ahmed, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, KL Rahul, Ambati Rayudu, Shardul Thakur
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Pakistan: The men in green are winners of the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017. With the likes of Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Imam-ul-Haq, Shoaib Malik and skipper Sarfraz Ahmed will definitely be the ones to watch out for. On their day, Pakistan can knock off any team in their sights and what Sarfraz will hope for is consistency from his men. Young Shadab Khan will lead the spin department, while Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi and Junaid will bolster the pace attack.
Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (c), Asif Ali, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Shan Masood, Shoaib Malik, Usman Shinwari
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Hong Kong: Hong Kong are the unknown quantities of this tournament. In the qualification rounds, it was their bowling which grabbed the attention. Tanwir Afzal, Aizaz Khan and Ehsan Nawaz proved that they are more than competent seamers, while Nadeem Ahmed and Ehsan Khan are excellent spin options. The batting is on the weaker suit for Hong Kong. But 20-year-old Anshuman Rath will be the one to watch out for. In 16 ODI’s, the youngster has scored 736 runs at an average of 52.57 including one century and six fifties.
Hong Kong: Anshuman Rath (c), Aizaz Khan, Arshad Mohammad, Babar Hayat, Christopher Carter, Ehsan Khan, Ehsan Nawaz, Cameron McAuslan, Scott McKechnie, Nadeem Ahmed, Nizakat Khan, Kinchit Shah, Jhatavedh Subramanyan, Tanwir Afzal, Waqas Khan
Sri Lanka: The Islanders will be the underdogs in this edition of the Asia Cup. In their last ODI series against the Proteas, they lost 3-2 but gave glimpses of their ability to perform under pressure. The batting department will be led by Kusal Mendis, Upul Tharanga while spinner Akila Dananjaya will head the spin department. Veteran Lasith Malinga’s return to the side also provides a huge boost to the seam attack comprising of Dushmantha Chameera, Suranga Lakmal, Dasun Shanaka.
Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (c), Amila Aponso, Dushmantha Chameera, Akila Dananjaya, Niroshan Dickwella, Shehan Jayasuriya, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga, Kusal Mendis, Dilruwan Perera, Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera, Kasun Rajitha, Dasun Shanaka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Upul Tharanga
READ | Everything you need to know about the Pakistan squad
Afghanistan: The Afghan side has steadily risen as a force to be reckoned with in the limited format of the games over the past few years. Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi will provide the much-needed experience and expertise in the tournament. While their spin bowling line-up is a frightening prospect for batsmen on United Arab Emirates pitches, their batting still remains a concern. Their last three losses have all come when their batsmen have failed score 200 and hence needs to patch up.
Afghanistan: Asghar Afghan (c), Javed Ahmadi, Munir Ahmad, Yamin Ahmadzai, Aftab Alam, Ihsanullah, Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Mohammad Shahzad, Samiullah Shenwari, Sayed Shirzad, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Najibullah Zadran
Bangladesh: Hosts of the previous edition, the Tigers will be keen to prove a point that they can perform at the big stage. Opener Tamim Iqbal comes into the tournament in a good knick. Mustafizur Rahman remains as a serious threat with his array of cutters and variety. Bangladesh will hope Shakib Al Hasan can regain full fitness.
Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (c), Shakib Al Hasan, Liton Das, Ariful Haque, Mominul Haque, Abu Hider, Rubel Hossain, Tamim Iqbal, Nazmul Islam, Mahmudullah, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Mohammad Mithun, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mustafizur Rahman, Mosaddek Hossain Saikat, Nazmul Hossain Shanto
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