When the news that the Asia Cup was going to be held this year came about, I was really happy cos’ it would give SL a chance to show that they were the true ODI champs of Asia.
However, looking at the time period during which the tournament would be held told me volumes about how significant this was to the ACC (Asian Cricket Council). Cricket is never played in July in Pakistan because the heat is just unbearable, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the matches were being played in an oven. It was clearly demonstrated by the fact that many teams seemed to choose to bat first so that their bowlers could bowl during the comparatively cooler nights.
As if the IPL didn’t get kinda boring during the end of the group stages because of consecutive matches every day, the Asia Cup tried to rival the IPL by giving teams ‘back-to-back’ matches in the sweltering heat of Karachi and Lahore, which resulted in a disgruntled Dhoni complaining about the schedule. I’m sure even Malik and Jayawardena must’ve been complaining within themselves.
However, some of the individual performances really gave the tournament something to remember. Ajantha Mendis with his whole load of variations (including the famous ‘carrom ball’), Suresh Raina coming back to form with some great centuries which were composed with conventional strokes (showing us precisely what Greg Chappell saw in him 2 years ago), the grandfather of Sri Lankan cricket Sanath Jayasuriya entertaining us with his great cross – batted strokes and whirlwind centuries, Alok Kapali composing a breathtaking century against a good Indian attack.
Sadly, UAE and Hong Kong, once again, just seemed to make up the number, and were clearly outclassed by the other teams. UAE came close to pulling off an upset against Sri Lanka when they had 6 SL batsmen down for not-so-many, and Arshad Khan making a whirldwind 73 before getting out. Hong Kong also had Pakistan 7 down for 169, but Tanvir and Alam rescued them.
Overalledly, nothing much to remember, the performance of Mendis giving everyone something to cheer about, and shows that unorthodox players still have a place in the game, and that there’ll be some spinners to fill the void that would be created once Kumble and Murali retire.