- Asia Cup 2023: Hybrid format, 13 matches, India vs Pakistan in Sri Lanka.
- Key Players: Hasaranga, Rizwan, Gill, Siraj, Kohli.
The 16th season of the Asia Cup, Asia’s premier cricket competition, is just around the corner, set to kick off on August 30th and run until September 17, 2023. What makes this season unique is the adoption of a hybrid format, marking the first time in the tournament’s history.
This time around, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will jointly host the 50-over format Asia Cup 2023, with a total of 13 matches scheduled. Among these, four will be played in Lahore, Pakistan, while the remaining nine will take place in Sri Lanka, spanning Kandy and Pallekele. Notably, the much-anticipated clash between arch-rivals India and Pakistan will also unfold in Sri Lanka.
In a recent meeting between Jay Shah, ACC President, and BCCI Secretary, and PCB head Zaka Ashraf ahead of the ICC’s Board Meeting, it was decided that India would not travel to Pakistan. Consequently, the schedule was adjusted to accommodate this change.
The ODI season is in full swing, with the recently concluded CWC Qualifier determining Sri Lanka and the Netherlands as qualifiers. This season has seen many players leave an indelible mark on ODIs and, in particular, the Asia Cup, with their stellar performances in crucial matches. In this article, we’ll shine a spotlight on five such players to watch out for in the Asia Cup 2023.
Players to watch out for in the Asia Cup 2023
1. Wanindu Hasaranga
Wanindu Hasaranga, the 25-year-old Sri Lankan right-arm leg-spinner and bowling all-rounder, made his international debut in July 2017. Over the span of six years, from 2017 to 2023, Hasaranga has claimed 67 wickets and scored 832 runs in 48 ODI matches. Remarkably, in 2023 alone, he has taken a staggering 28 wickets in 14 matches, boasting a remarkable best bowling figure of 6/24 in a single inning.
Hasaranga has also contributed significantly with the bat, amassing 250 runs and capturing 10 wickets in a series. Currently, he is the leading wicket-taker in the ICC World Cup 2023 Qualifiers, with 18 wickets from four matches, including three five-wicket hauls. He was also named the Man of the Series in the previous year’s Asia Cup, making him one of the players to watch out and worth keeping a close eye on.
2. Mohammad Rizwan
The Pakistani wicket-keeper and right-handed batsman, Mohammad Rizwan, made his ODI debut in April 2015, against Bangladesh. He holds the distinction of being the fastest player to reach 2000 runs in a calendar year in T20Is. Rizwan also clinched the highest run-scorer award in the Asia Cup 2022, establishing himself as one of the top players to watch out for in the upcoming tournament.
In the current season, Rizwan has amassed 343 runs in eight ODIs, boasting an astonishing average of 68.60. His consistency and stability at the top of the order have transformed Pakistan’s batting line-up, turning what was once a vulnerability into a strength.
3. Shubman Gill
Shubman Gill, India’s rising star, has carved a niche for himself with his explosive batting prowess. His ODI debut came in India’s fourth match of the series against New Zealand on January 31, 2019. Since then, Gill has notched up three centuries and four double-hundreds in just three and a half years.
In 2023, Gill has already accumulated 624 runs in nine matches at an astonishing average of 78.00. Known for his temperament and ability to deliver match-winning performances, Gill’s standout achievement was winning the orange cap in IPL 2023, smashing 890 runs—the second-highest score in a single IPL season. His performance in the Asia Cup promises to be equally captivating.
4. Mohammad Siraj
India’s emerging fast-bowling sensation, Mohammad Siraj, has been making waves with his exceptional bowling skills. Making his ODI debut in January 2019 against Australia, Siraj has scalped 43 wickets in 24 matches, boasting an impressive economy rate of 4.78.
Siraj’s recent ascent in the cricketing world is evident in his ranking, having briefly held the top position in the ICC ODI Bowlers Rankings in January 2023. Although he currently sits at the second position in the latest rankings, his on-field temperament, fierce attitude, and exceptional bowling abilities position him as a potential game-changer for India in the Asia Cup.
5. Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli, often hailed as one of the greatest cricketers in the world, has etched his name alongside legends like Sir Don Bradman, Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, and Ricky Ponting. He made his ODI debut against Sri Lanka in August 2008 and is renowned for his extraordinary skills on the field.
Having first graced the Asia Cup (ODI) in 2010, Kohli has consistently delivered stellar performances, amassing 613 runs in 10 innings at an average of 61.3, with a high score of 183. His T20I exploits in the Asia Cup 2022 also saw him as the second-highest run-scorer, with 272 runs in 5 matches. In the current year, 2023, Kohli has already amassed 787 runs in 15 ODI matches, including three centuries.
Kohli’s ability to perform consistently under pressure, coupled with his unparalleled dedication and skill set, solidifies his status as a true icon of one-day international cricket.