The fourteenth edition of the Asia Cup, which was held in the United Arab Emirates over two weeks, concluded with a thrilling final with India beating Bangladesh by three wickets in a pulsating last-ball finish at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Friday.
Whilst the two traditional powerhouses of Asian cricket—Pakistan and Sri Lanka—failed to live up to expectations, Bangladesh and Afghanistan—two teams that are gradually consolidating their positions in the top echelon of world cricket, albeit only in the shorter formats—played some fantastic cricket in the tournament to win the spectators’ hearts.
Third‑time participants Hong Kong, too, impressed one and all with their spirited fight against India, which saw their two openers, Nizakat Khan and Anshuman Rath, give the Indian bowlers a hard time as they put up 174 runs for the opening wicket in pursuit of a target of 286. Although lack of enough experience of playing at the highest level hindered Hong Kong from scoring an upset, their fearless approach against India has left for the ICC to mull rewarding them with ODI status.
Though touted as favourites from the outset to win the tournament, India didn’t have a seamless run enroute the final. Playing without their regular skipper and leading batsman Virat Kohli, the Rohit Sharma-led side survived three scares in the tournament—against Hong Kong in the group stage, Afghanistan in the Super Four stage and Bangladesh in the final. India’s bowling, which has been the side’s stronger suit in recent times, stood out in crunch situations, while the Shikhar Dhawan-Rohit Sharma opening pair continued its dream run in 2018 by scoring the lion’s share of India’s total runs in the tournament. Their middle-order, on the flipside, failed to deliver every time an adverse situation showed up. That said, the defending champions did well to hold their nerves in the final and bag their seventh Asia Cup title—a record in the tournament’s history.
For the fans of the game it is happiness unparalleled, when after the completion of a particular tournament, they sit down to look at the top individual performances and compile their ‘team of the tournament’ based on those performances. It is with the plain intention of indulging in this fun, yet somewhat tricky exercise that we have picked and are therefore presenting our team of the tournament.