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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Asia Cup ~ 2018 - begins today


Cricket Asia Cup starts today ..  .. how important, how interesting it would be ? ~ can you identify this wicket-keeper batsman,  who the man of the tournament in the inaugural Asia Cup in 1984 ?

Remember him opening for Delhi in the QF against Tamil Nadu and score couple of rousing shots against Thirumalai Ananthanpillai Sekar, who was really fast those days ..  it is Surinder Khanna, the wicket-keeper, batsman.  He played in the QF match in Feb 1982 when S Venkatraghavan, decided to have 3 spinners and one was the young debutant laxman Sivaramakrishnan. Delhi won the toss and batted first which meant TN had to play the 4th innings on a square turner. Delhi made a huge total of 414, with Mohinder Amarnath making 99, Chetan Chauhan 83 and Kirti Azad and Surinder Khanna 77 each. The classy thirty seven year old Venkataraghavan took seven wickets for 145. Tamil Nadu made a spirited reply, making  298 (V. Sivaramakrishnan 72, T. E. Srinivasan 87, Abdul Jabbar 53). Delhi were bowled out for a paltry score with Siva taking 7 – but lost by 20 wickets when Maninder Singh spoiled their party.

Money transfer, foreign exchange, payment and credit solutions provider Unimoni  is the  title sponsor of the 2018 edition of national team Cricket tournament the Asia Cup. The limited-overs tournament is being hosted in the United Arab Emirates from September 15-28.  The 2018 Asia Cup is  a One-Day International (ODI) cricket tournament, which is the 14th  edition of the Asia Cup and the third time the tournament will be played in the United Arab Emirates, after the 1984 and 1995 tournaments. India are the defending champions. The five full members of the Asian Cricket Council will take part in the tournament -  Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka; they are joined by Hong Kong, who won the 2018 Asia Cup Qualifier tournament.

Hong Kong had lost their ODI status after finishing tenth in the 2018 Cricket World Cup Qualifier in March. The schedule and format of the tournament was announced on 24 July 2018, with the six teams split into two groups of three. India, Pakistan & Hongkong are in one group, Srilanka, Afghan & Bangladesh are on the other.  The top two teams from each of the groups will then progress to the Super Four section of the tournament. From there, the top two teams of the Super Four section will then play each other in the final. Bangladesh will take on Sri Lanka in the opening game of the tournament today  at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. 

India have rested their captain Virat Kohli. Rohit Sharma will lead the side in his absence, with Shikhar Dhawan named his deputy. There is one new face in the squad in Khaleel Ahmed, the left-arm seamer from Rajasthan. He is from MRF academy. The 20-year-old has only played two first-class matches, but has more experience in List A and T20 cricket, having played a combined 29 games across the two shorter formats. He was part of the India A limited-overs squad that toured England in June-July, and also played for India A in the recently concluded 50-overs quadrangular series in Bengaluru.   The squad consists of    Rohit Sharma (c); Shikhar Dhawan (vc); Ambati Rayudu, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik,  Hardik Pandy, Khaleel Ahmed, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur & Kuldeep Yadav.       

Fast bowler Lasith Malinga has been recalled to a 16-man Sri Lanka squad for the Asia Cup, despite not having played in Sri Lanka's provincial one-day tournament in May and June this year. Malinga, 35, has, however, consistently been playing domestic T20 cricket in Sri Lanka. He had last played an international in September last year.

On Mar 17, 2018 Papua New Guinea surged to a 58-run win over Hong Kong in their ninth place playoff match against at Old Hararians, with fast bowler Norman Vanua and legspinning allrounder Charles Amini taking four wickets apiece. This was the 4000th  ODI to be played since the format came into existence more than 47 years ago. It was the 18th  PNG had played since they gained ODI status after the last World Cup qualifying tournament in 2014, and it was the 24th  Hong Kong had been part of since their Asia Cup debut in 2004. PNG and Hong Kong both lost ODI status after this match. But PNG rallied to ensure they would leave cricket's top table on a high.  Later the decision by ICC to grant all matches in multi-team one-day tournaments ODI status has given a reprieve for Hongkong.

Statistically, India and Sri Lanka are the most successful teams in the ODI format.  India has won it 6; Lanka 5 and Pak 2 times.   India’s 6 includes one, when it was a T20 format. The inaugural version of Asia cup was held in Apr 1984 at Sharjah and India won the Cup – there were only 3 matches.  India defeated Sri Lanka and Pakistan with Surinder Khanna being the hero and Lanka defeated Pak in the other match.

That man Surinder Khanna debuted in a World Cup against WI at Birmingham on 9.6.1979, did not make a single run; made two 50s at Sharjay in 1984 and played in all 10 one dayrs making total of 176.  At Qutta on 12.10.1984, he made 31 ~ and was dropped for the next match at Quetta, which was abandoned mid-way arising out of assassination of Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi.  Khanna and Syed Kirmani was brought back – interestingly, Sunil Gavaskar did not play in that match – Mohinder Amarnath was the Indian Captain !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
15th Sept 2018.

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