Asia’s cricket giants will get a final chance to size each other up before October’s ICC Men’s ODI World Cup when the Asia Cup begins on Wednesday.
Fiery rivals India and Pakistan could clash as many as three times if they go all the way in the six-nation continental championship.
Pakistan and Sri Lanka are co-hosts, a hybrid model agreed after World Cup hosts India refused to tour Pakistan, with the final on September 17 in Colombo.
India, led by Rohit Sharma, will open their campaign against Pakistan in a hotly anticipated clash on Saturday in Pallekele. They are expected to meet again in the Super Four stage and could face off for a third time in the final.
The top two teams from each group advance to the Super Four with the leading two in the standings contesting the final.
Here’s a look at all the squads and team news ahead of the Asia Cup:
KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer have returned from their injuries to make the Asia Cup squad as the cricketing powerhouse fine tune for the upcoming ODI World Cup.
Rahul has not played any competitive cricket since he was injured during this year’s Indian Premier League. Meanwhile, Iyer has been out since Australia’s tour of India in March.
Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah and Prasidh Krishna, who returned after recovering from back injuries during the ongoing T20 series against Ireland, have also been selected.
Up and coming left-hand batter Tilak Varma, a 20-year-old who is yet to play a one-day international, has also been picked to boost India’s batting, which includes Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill and vice-captain Hardik Pandya.
India squad: Rohit Sharma (capt), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, K.L. Rahul, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, Ishan Kishan, Shardul Thakur, Axar Patel, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Prasidh Krishna
India reserve player: Sanju Samson (wicketkeeper)
All-rounder Faheem Ashraf was recalled to a strong Babar Azam-led Pakistan squad for the Asia Cup. The 29-year-old played the last of his 31 one-day internationals in England in July 2021 but chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq said his efforts warranted selection.
“We have picked 18 players for the Afghanistan series and one less for the Asia Cup and Ashraf was the best pace-bowling allrounder available to us,” Inzamam said in Lahore.
Former vice-captain Shan Masood misses out while pacer Ihsanullah was also not selected due to injury.
The Pakistan side are currently playing an ODI series against Afghanistan in Sri Lanka after which they will play the Asia Cup scheduled from August 30 to September 17.
Pakistan will be the co-hosts along with Sri Lanka.
Inzamam, who was recently appointed chief selector, said he hoped players will get a proper tune-up for the World Cup in India from October 5 to November 19.
“We have selected players with the focus also on the World Cup and hope that the team brings laurels to the country,” he said.
Pakistan squad: Babar Azam (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan, Abdullah Shafique, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Haris, Mohammad Wasim, Naseem Shah, Agha Salman, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Tayyab Tahir, Usama Mir, Mohammad Nawaz
Injuries forced Sri Lanka to drop two key players – Wanindu Hasaranga and Dushmantha Chameera – from its 15-member squad for the tournament.
Sri Lanka’s cricket board said Hasaranga, a spin bowling all-rounder, and pace bowler Chameera were in the original squad, but had to be dropped due to their injuries.
Two other lesser known players – Dilshan Madushanka and Lahiru Kumara – were also left out because of injuries, the board said.
The Dasun Shanaka-led side became champions of the previous edition held in UAE.
Sri Lanka squad: Dasun Shanaka (Captain), Pathum Nissanaka, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Maheesh Theekshana, Dunith Wellalage, Matheesha Pathirana, Kasun Rajitha, Dushan Hemantha, Binura Fernando and Pramod Madushan.
Bangladesh called up young opener Tanzid Hasan Tamim on Saturday to their 17-member squad for the Asia Cup one-day international tournament beginning later this month.
Left-handed Tamim was a member of the Bangladesh team that won the 2020 Under-19 World Cup in South Africa and has since been groomed as a new prospect by the Bangladesh Cricket Board.
The 22-year-old scored 179 runs in four matches of July’s Emerging Teams Asia Cup in Sri Lanka, with three half-centuries and a strike rate of 117.
Tamim takes the place of former captain Tamim Iqbal, who pulled out of the Asia Cup due to injury.
Lower-order batter Shamim Hossain, who played 17 Twenty20 internationals for Bangladesh but has yet to make his ODI debut.
All-rounder Shakib Al Hasan will return as ODI captain.
On Wednesday, Liton Das was ruled out of the tournament with viral fever and named Anamul Haque as his replacement.
Anamul, whose last ODI appearance for Bangladesh was in December against India, will join the Bangladesh squad ahead of their opening match against the co-hosts Sri Lanka in Kandy on Thursday.
The 30-year-old right-handed batter has played 44 one-day internationals and scored 1,254 runs, including three centuries.
Meanwhile, uncapped pacer Tanzim Hasan Sakib as Ebadot Hossain’s replacement with the latter ruled out due to a knee injury. The 20-year-old has taken 57 wickets from 37 List A matches, including nine wickets in three matches in the recent Emerging Men’s Asia Cup.
Bangladesh (updated) squad: Shakib Al Hasan (capt), Tanzid Hasan Tamim, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Towhid Hridoy, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman, Hasan Mahmud, Mahedi Hasan, Nasum Ahmed, Shamim Hossain, Afif Hossain, Shoriful Islam, Ebadot Hossain, Mohammad Naim.
Middle-order batter Najibullah Zadran returned to Afghanistan’s 17-man squad after recovering from a knee injury.
The 30-year-old left-hander had to miss the three-match series against Pakistan which Afghanistan lost 3-0 in Colombo on Saturday.
The selection committee hoped Najibullah will be ready for the six-nation event starting in Multan from Wednesday.
“Najibullah missed the recently concluded Pakistan series due to a knee injury but has been included and is expected to recover from the injury prior to the start of the event,” the Afghanistan Cricket Board said in a statement.
Meanwhile, all-rounder Azmatullah Omarzai has been ruled out of the competition due to a side strain while Gulbadin Naib and Karim Janat have been added to the team.
“Mohammad Saleem Safi and Abdul Rahman, the two fast bowlers, who were part of the squad against Pakistan, have retained their spots in the lineup, but Fareed Ahmad and Wafadar Momand have been left out,” the statement added.
Afghanistan squad: Hashmatullah Shahidi (captain), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ikram Alikhil, Ibrahim Zadran, Riaz Hassan, Rahmat Shah, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Karim Janat, Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan, Abdul Rahman, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Mohammad Saleem Safi, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Sharafuddin Ashraf (travelling reserve).
Nepal open the tournament facing hosts Pakistan on August 30 at Multan.
A win at their debut Asia Cup would be a dream for the cricket-mad South Asian nation, whose side will compete against top nations including India and Pakistan.
Nepal’s cricket squad on Tuesday headed to Pakistan for the ODI Asia Cup without its star spin bowler, who must stay home to stand trial for alleged rape, officials said. However, the trial was postponed Sunday, allowing him to joinhis teammates.
Nepal failed to make the cut for the 50-over showpiece event in India in October.
Nepal squad: Rohit Paudel (c), Kushal Bhurtel, Aasif Sheikh (wk), Bhim Sharki, Kushal Malla, Aarif Sheikh, Dipendra Singh Airee, Gulshan Jha, Sompal Kami, Karan KC, Sandeep Lamichhane, Lalit Rajbanshi, Pratish GC, Shyam Dhakal, Sundeep Jora, Kishore Mahato and Arjun Saud.
With inputs from AFP