The Asia Cup 2016 that begins on February 24 will mark the beginning of a heavy Twenty20 (T20) schedule for the international players, who will later compete in the ICC World T20 and then the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) season nine. Asia Cup has a rich history, with its first edition being played more than 30 years ago. It has come a long way since then, with new teams joining the bandwagon and new format being introduced this time.

Yes, this is for the first time that the tournament will be played in T20I format and here on all future Asia Cup tournaments will be played on rotation basis in ODI and T20I formats. The structure of the tournament is such that four teams Afghanistan, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Hong Kong and Oman will play a qualifiers tournament before the main draw and the winner amongst them will join heavyweights India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the main draw.

The premier tournament amongst the South Asian teams, the Asia Cup came into existence after the formation of Asian Cricket Council. Its first edition was being played in 1984, with India beating Sri Lanka in the final to lift the inaugural title in the UAE. Since then, it has been played 11 more times, with India and Sri Lanka winning it five times each and Pakistan winning it twice, the last of which came in 2012 when they beat Bangladesh by two runs in a tense final.

While India dominated the tournament in the 1980s and early part of 1990s, Sri Lanka have ruled the roost in last 20 years, with four of their five titles coming during the period. When it comes to statistics, once again the Sri Lankans dominate most of the charts. Sanath Jayasuriya tops the run charts with 1,220 runs and Muttiah Muralitharan leads the wicket table with 30. With 15 catches, Mahela Jayawardene also finds a mention on the honours board.

The new edition in a fresh and exciting format, which is often unpredictable, makes the tournament more open than ever. Bangladesh have emerged as a powerhouse at home in recent times and with the Asia Cup set to be played at their home, they can’t be ruled out. Similarly, Afghanistan too have had a dream run in past 18 months or so. This means it won’t be easy for the traditional giants India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. So, hold your breath and enjoy the action as it unfolds from February 24.

Designed by Jyoti Desale
Designed by Jyoti Desale