The last 14 Asia Cup tournaments have been won by powerhouses India (7 times), Sri Lanka (5), and Pakistan (2), although other teams from the region have also had success over the years. Bangladesh and Afghanistan will be aiming for a change in the Asia Cup that starts on August 27.
Bangladesh and Afghanistan are not to be taken lightly despite having subpar T20 records (Bangladesh’s win percentage is 34.35 percent and Afghanistan’s is 50 percent, with the majority of their victories coming against associate nations in their early years before becoming a full-fledged members).
First off, Bangladesh finished second in the 2018 Asia Cup after falling to India in the championship game (a 50-over format). They are captained by veteran all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who the International Cricket Council has classified as the No. 2 T20 all-rounder, only behind Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi. Shakib’s expertise will be crucial for Bangladesh, while Nabi is a powerful symbol for Afghanistan.
The 2019 ICC World Cup was a prime example of Shakib’s ability to lift his performance on the big stage. Shakib is one short of 100 T20I appearances. Shakib scored 606 runs in England in 2019 and also became the first cricketer in World Cup history to score 600-plus runs and take 10 wickets in a single tournament.
With 121 wickets in T20I history, Shakib is not only the highest wicket-taker but also successful with 41 wickets at the World Cup in T20I. Despite being a maverick, the left-handed all-rounder does have some experienced hands in the batting line-up in the former captains Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah, who has played 119 matches in T20I matches. In the Power Play and death overs, Mustafizur Rahman can pose a threat with his movement.
It is clear that Afghanistan has improved by playing with the best teams in the world. They have a well-balanced squad with powerful hitters and finishers. Rashid Khan is the world’s No. 5-ranked T20I bowler and also the third highest bowler in T20Is, nine behind Bangladesh’s Shakib with 112 wickets.
Aside from his leg-spinning variations, Rashid is also a powerful willow player, having contributed to Gujarat Titans’ spectacular run earlier this year with match-winning knocks with the bat. Whenever he bats, his unorthodox style changes the course of a match. He hits sixes with ease, which changes the course of a match.
The skipper, Nabi, has vast experience playing T20 cricket around the world. He is ranked number 1 in the world among all-rounders. However, for all the experience and skills that Nabi possesses, his batting average fails to reflect these abilities.
It is possible to upset Sri Lanka or Bangladesh in Group B by providing consistent performances from Rashid and Nabi, as well as contributions from the rest. It is especially noteworthy that Afghanistan has a knack for winning consistently, once posting 12 consecutive victories in the T20I format, sharing the record with India and Romania for the most consecutive wins in this format, and once winning 11 matches in this format.