In 1985 SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) was created to create peace and harmony and bringing much needed prosperity in South Asia. The organization had aimed to increase trade among member states, enhanced cooperation in the fields of education, culture, science and technology. More importantly, it provided a platform to member countries to address their bilateral issues, which were plenty in number and complex by nature. Incidentally, around the same time, Asia Cup Cricket Tournament was introduced (in 1984) with members of SAARC the hot favorites to win. It is a foregone conclusion that the Asia Cup has suffered the same kind of fate as has SAARC, with disagreements on scheduling as teams only agree to play once a window is available in their busy FTP (Future Tours Programme).
Venue of the event often comes under scanner as the “two big brothers” India and Pakistan find themselves at loggerheads most of the time. This years’ event has also been shifted to UAE from India as Pakistan has raised objections as India does not play any bilateral series with Pakistan. India however, still remains to be the “Hosts” of the tournament. Despite all the issues, 14th edition of Asia Cup is scheduled to be played in UAE from 15 – 28 September 2018. Six teams divided in two pools will be competing. Pakistan, India and a Qualifier will form part of Group A and Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan will be in Group B. Two teams from each Group will qualify to Super 4s where each team will play against each other and top two teams will compete for trophy in Finals.
A separate event for Qualifiers has been planned from 29 August – 6 September, where Singapore, Nepal, Malaysia, Oman, UAE and Hong Kong will compete. It is difficult to predict that who will eventually qualify for the tournament as UAE, Nepal and Hong Kong have good limited over sides.
As pointed out earlier, controversy and Asia Cup have a special relationship, the latest being the two consecutive matches scheduled for India on 18 – 19 Sep 2018 as they will be playing against qualifying team on 18th and Pakistan on 19th Sep. India has requested that the match against to be rescheduled.
On current form, India and Pakistan are the favorites for the tournament, though Sri Lanka has achieved limited success against South Africa. Moreover, Bangladesh and Afghanistan cannot be ruled out to come up with an upset. For people looking for hi-octane matches between Pakistan and India, there is a strong possibility of three matches between the two sides within ten days. This will be the first clash since the final of Champions Trophy between the two teams played last year. Who will win the bragging rights after these clashes is anybody’s guess. Pakistan and India however remain favorites for the tournament as nature of pitches will suit both sides.