Asia Cup 2018 is set to begin from Saturday with Bangladesh taking on Sri Lanka in Dubai in the first fixture of the tournament. This year, the historical tournament will see the participation of six nations. The nations with Test status – India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan received a direct entry into the tournament, while Hong Kong, Malaysia, Nepal, Oman, Singapore, and UAE had to compete in the qualifiers for the remaining one spot, in which Hong Kong emerged victorious.
Considering the exhausting two-month long England tour, India rested skipper Virat Kohli and gave the command to Rohit Sharma. India will begin their campaign against Hong Kong on Tuesday. Even though Hong Kong has not yet received an ODI status by the ICC, the match will still be considered as an official One-Day International, as per a recent ruling by the cricket board.
Here are all the interesting facts about the historical tournament:
* The first Asia Cup was held in 1984 in Sharjah in the UAE. Only three countries took part in the tournament at the time – India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. It started off as a round-robin tournament, and the nation with most victories was declared the winner. The tournament was organised by the then, newly formed Asian Cricket Council. Indian team led by Sunil Gavaskar lifted the inaugural trophy as they defeated by Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
* India pulled out of the second edition of the tournament in 1986, held in Sri Lanka, due to sour cricketing relations with the host nation. Bangladesh was included in the tournament. Sri Lanka defeated Pakistan in the final to clinch the trophy.
* In 1988, the third Asia Cup was held in Bangladesh – the first time a multi-nation tournament was held in the country. India defeated Sri Lanka in the final to lift their second trophy.
* India’s only 5-wicket haul in the Asia Cup took place in 1998 against Pakistan in a must-win game in Dhaka. It was the right-arm off-break bowler, Arshad Ayub, who achieved the milestone. He registered figures of 21/5 to give India the victory. It was also the first 5-wicket haul in the Asia Cup.
* In 1990, Pakistan pulled out of the tournament, which was held in India, due to strained political tensions with the country. India retained the trophy after defeating Sri Lanka in the final.
* In 1993, the strained relations between India and Pakistan led to the cancellation of the tournament entirely.
* In 1995, the fifth edition of the Asia Cup was held in Sharjah. India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, all finished with same points in the round robin stage and India and Sri Lanka reached the final on a better net run rate. India lifted the trophy.
* In 1997, Sri Lanka lifted the trophy after defeating India in the final at home.
* In 2000, India failed to reach the final of the Asia Cup for the first time. The tournament, which was held in Bangladesh, saw Pakistan beat Sri Lanka to win the trophy.
* In 2004, there was a change in format of the Asia Cup, with Hong Kong and UAE, entering the fray. For the first time, the competition was divided into three stages – the Group Stage, Super Fours and Final. Sri Lanka defeated India to lift the trophy.
* In 2008, India travelled to Pakistan for the Asia Cup and reached the final. But Sri Lanka defeated India in the final to clinch the trophy, with the help of Ajantha Mendis, who registered the bowling figures of 6/13. It is also the best bowling figures in the history of the tournament.
* India won the 2010 Asia Cup, their first in 15 years, after defeating Sri Lanka. Only four Test playing nations – India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh participated.
* Virender Sehwag holds the record for registering the best bowling strike rate in the history of Asia Cup. He achieved the record in a 2010 match against Bangladesh, in which he registered figures of 6/4 in 2.5 overs.
* In 2012, Pakistan lifted their second Asia Cup, after clinching a thrilling final over victory over Bangladesh in the final by 2 runs.
* Virat Kohli’s highest ODI score of 183 came against Pakistan in the 2012 Asia Cup. India managed to chase down the target of 330 set by the opponents on the back of his innings, in a match that saw some tense moments between the players in the final few minutes of the match. It is also the highest ODI total in the history of Asia Cup.
* In 2014, Afghanistan entered the fray for the first time in the Asia Cup. The tournament, which was held in Dhaka, saw Sri Lanka defeating Pakistan in the final to win the trophy.
* In 2015, ICC downsized Asian Cricket Council, and decided that the Asia Cup tournaments will be played on rotation basis in ODI and T20I format.
* In 2016, the Asia Cup tournament was held in the T20 format for the first time. India defeated Bangladesh to win the trophy in Dhaka.
* Sanath Jayasuriya is the leading run scorer in the history of Asia Cup with 1,220 ODI runs
* Muttiah Muralitharan is the leading wicket-taker in the history of Asia Cup with 30 wickets
* India has won the Asia Cup maximum times (6), followed by Sri Lanka (5) and Pakistan (2).
* Mahendra Singh Dhoni has the best average (95.16) in the Asia Cup.
* No Indian batsmen has ever been dismissed for a duck in the Asia Cup in the ODI format. The record, though, was broken in the T20 format. Sri Lanka holds the record for most ducks (17), followed by Bangladesh (11) and Pakistan (9) in the ODIs.