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Asia Cup: a preview

By "Roving" Eye

Another one-day tournament begins. This time its the Asia Cup. And just like any other one-day tournament involving more than two countries, there is always speculation on who will emerge as the winners. Very often, one finds that tournaments like these rather seem to favour the favourites, until the under-dogs pull it off in the last minute.

Looking at the History of the Asia Cup, India have been predominant victors, namely in the years 1995, 1990-91 and 1988. But looking at their current form, it seems rather difficult to imagine that they can pull up a performance to beat the winners of the last two World Cups. Yes, they do have the raw material to win but they have to work out a way to adjust their game-plan if they even want to dream of winning the Asia Cup. And another thing, no bribes... it just doesn't help.

Bangladesh, recently awarded full ODI status by the ICC are determined to prove their worth. Winning the ICC Trophy to secure a berth in the 1999 World Cup in England, they have proved that they are working their way up the cricket ladder. They still have a lot more work to do if they can live up to the competitive standards of international cricket. The Asia Cup could be a stepping stone to their crusade.

Pakistan have their usual opener Aamir Sohail back after the threat of a two-year ban amidst a whole new mess; but they have the most depleted team in the tournament with each and every one of their main bowlers unavailable. On the other hand, victorious in the not-so-official Siyaram's Cup, their confidence in definately high and along with a new coach and their star opener in the Wills World Cup, they can be one of the most formidable teams on their day. Whether they can still be as dominant without Wasim Akram and Co. remains to be seen.

And lastly, but certainly not the least, Sri Lanka. After a great string of victories in one-day international cricket tournaments in the sub-continent regions, they are the favourites to win the Asia Cup, especially at home. With a strong batting line-up of Jayasuriya, Atapattu, Aravinda de Silva, Mahanama, Ranatunga, Tillekaratne and practically the whole of the team, they tend to pile up massive scores that are quite impossible to achieve. With their spin department fully developed and their fast bowlers beginning to do well, they seem to be the side that is almost fully equipped to win the Asia Cup this year. But, as I said, somehow, the under-dogs almost always manage to pull up something. And in cricket, anything can happen.....

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