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Friday, August 26, 2022

Cricket extravaganza ! - Asia Cup 2022 set to start !!

From tomorrow till 11th Sept 2022, there would be so much of Cricket .. Cricket at Sharjah – one’s memory somehow would certainly  recall that 6 !  

It was 19th Apr 1986 as we sat glued to TV – the  Austral-Asia Cup  between India and Pakistan at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah.  Pak won by 1 wicket but that one single shot has been talked about over and again, so many times.  It started so well, a 100 run partnership.  Krishnamachari Srikkanth outscoring Sunil Gavaskar.  Cheeka scored 75 with 8 fours and 2 sixers; Gavaskar made 92 off 134 balls; next man Dilip Vengsarkar made a 50.  India made 245/7 – a good score those days.  

Paki innings was anchored by Javed Miandad.    16 were  required off last two, Kapil breaking the tradition  came on to bowl the 49th (his 10th) – controlled things giving away only 5 runs,  and after 49,  Pakistan were 235 for seven -  required 11 runs from six balls to win the cup. Chetan Sharma’s first ball  was pushed to the long-off by Miandad-  Kapil ensured just a single; Wasim Akram was run out trying to get the second run. Miandad struck a boundary off the second ball but could score only a single in the third ball. Wicket-keeper batsman Zulqarnain was clean bowled by Sharma for a duck which left Pakistan needing five runs from two deliveries. Last man Tauseef Ahmed scrambled a single off the fifth ball as Mohammad Azharuddin missed a run-out chance. Pakistan needed  four runs and India one final wicket from the last ball. Chetan Sharma's intended yorker became a full toss which was dispatched into crowds by Miandad for a six.  


From tomorrow starts ‘Asia Cup 2022’ -  the  Asian Cricket Council Asia Cup is a men's One Day International and Twenty20 International cricket tournament. It was established in 1983 when the Asian Cricket Council was founded as a measure to promote goodwill between Asian countries. It was originally scheduled to be held every two years. The Asia Cup is the only continental championship in cricket and the winning team becomes the champions of Asia. It alternates every 2-years between ODI and T20I formats.  

The first Asia cup was held in 1984 in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.   India won the Cup – there were only 3 matches.  India defeated Sri Lanka and Pakistan with Surinder Khanna being the hero; SriLanka defeated Pak in the other match.  Surinder Khanna had earlier  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.  India boycotted the 1986 tournament due to strained cricketing relations with Sri Lanka. Pakistan boycotted the 1990–91 tournament due to strained political relations with India and the 1993 tournament was cancelled for the same reason.  The ICC has ruled that all games played in the Asia Cup have official ODI status.  

Asia Cup 2022  tournament starts on August 27 with Sri Lanka taking on Afghanistan in Dubai, and the final is on September 11, also in Dubai. It's being played in the T20 format because it's good prep for the T20 World Cup later this year. Simple: six teams, divided into two groups:  

Group A: India, Pakistan, Hong Kong

Group B: Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan  

Each team plays the other two in their group once and the top two qualify for the next round, the Super 4. There, each team plays every other team once, and the top two teams make it to the final.  

Thinking of another 6 off the penultimate ball, it was match 4 at Dambulla on 19th June 2010 – Asia Cup.   India needed three off two balls with tailenders batting.  Such a finish  seemed improbable when Gautam Gambhir and MS Dhoni put on an exhibition of clinical accumulation during their partnership of 98, which left only 89 to get off the last 15 overs with eight wickets in hand. They ran hard, pierced gaps, and muscled pressure-relieving boundaries whenever the asking-rate crept over six an over. India were in control even after Gambhir's dismissal but after Dhoni was out, match seemed to be Paki way. Harbhajan lofted Shoaib over long-on with impeccable timing, reducing the equation to 30 off 22.  Suresh Raina took on Shoaib in the 49th, pulling a short ball - this one didn't rise as much - for six to slash the equation to 10 off 11 balls. Shoaib, however, once again finished strongly, beating Harbhajan with consecutive bouncers off the final two deliveries.  With India needing seven runs off the final over, Raina took a single off the first ball, giving Harbhajan the strike. Raina tried to get it back immediately by stealing a bye but his desperate dive was beaten by Kamran Akmal's throw.  Praveen Kumar, India's No. 9, scored three off his first two balls and gave Harbhajan the strike for the penultimate delivery. Aamer ran in and pitched on a length, Harbhajan   swung hard, and began to raise his hands in triumph as the ball cleared the ropes.    

Statistically, it is India – having won the Asia Cup 7 times; Srilanka 5 and Pakistan twice.   

India have named VVS Laxman as the interim coach for Asia Cup in absence of Rahul Dravid, who tested positive for COVID-19. Laxman has assumed the role of head coach in the past, first during India's limited-over tour of Ireland and most recently against Zimbabwe. Laxman has travelled to UAE from Harare along with vice-captain KL Rahul, Deepak Hooda and Avesh Khan, all of whom were part of the ODI series against Zimbabwe and are in India's Asia Cup squad.  The Asia Cup will be the first major tournament for Rohit Sharma after being appointed India's permanent T20I captain in November last year.    

India are missing their pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah, who is recovering from injury. This gives Arshdeep Singh and Avesh Khan an opportunity to vie for spots  - Pak has lost Afridi.  After Shaheen Afridi, yet another Pakistan pacer has been ruled out as PCB confirmed today that   Mohammad Wasim has been ruled out of the Asia Cup due to a side strain that he picked up during the practice session on Wednesday. 

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th Aug 2022.

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