Sharjah: Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram said bowlers will be put to test during the Asia Cup, which begins on August 30 in Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The tournament has been reverted back to 50-over format keeping in mind the ODI World Cup that will take place in October-November this year in India.
“This tournament we will find out if the bowlers are able to deliver 10 overs or not. 50-over matches need a different mindset and lot of young bowlers now-a-days are all used to bowling four-overs [T20 game]. So the change in format is a good idea by ACC because right after it we have the World Cup,” said Akram, who was speaking on the sidelines of Asian Cricket Council’s announcement of Super 11 Fantasy League becoming title sponsor for the Asia Cup at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday.
Despite the focus being on the high voltage clash between India and Pakistan in Kandy on September 2, Akram said there were clearly no favourites. “All teams are dangerous. Last time we did have a great match between India and Pakistan but it was Sri Lanka who won the tournament. Even Bangladesh is equally good. So it will be tough for all sides and anyone one can win on their day. This is a long tournament and not a one-off that you can enter the semi-finals after winning one game.
“You have to win games to get on top. You have to take it game by game. Also, it is a 50-over competition, which means different mindset and fitness will be required.”
Akram said Pakistan will have additional pressure going into the tournament as the top ODI-ranked team. “Pakistan is currently looking like a complete team. Looking at their recent performances they have made winning a habit. But they have big matches coming up against big teams. You have to be on the top of the form against them. When you are the No 1 team there is always the pressure from the teams below you. So it’s important Pakistan keep their consistency.”
The former Pakistan star further said India have a balanced squad. “I think they are trying out different combinations, new players, especially in the T20 format, and also a new captain. They have a balanced squad. But it will not be easy for India or any team,” he said.
Nepal will be making their Asia Cup debut when they play Pakistan on August 30. Akram said he was particularly impressed with the way Nepal has raised the bar in the cricketing world. “There is lot of passion in the country. The stadiums are packed and we can even see people sitting on the tree to watch matches. The growth is tremendous and its going to get better and better.”
Super 11 Fantasy League, is a fantasy platform that will be launched to coincide with the start of the Asia Cup, giving fans a chance to engage with the sport. Omar Khan, CEO of Super 11 said: “We are happy to be part of Asia Cup. With so much buzz around for the tournament, we are confident this association will help in bringing fans closer to the game that we all love.”
Group A: Pakistan, India, and Nepal
Group B: Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan