Asia Cup 2018: India and Pakistan can play each other thrice
How many times can India and Pakistan face each other in this year's Asia Cup? The answer is 3 times. What is the probability? The answer is 'quite high'.
India and Pakistan are both part of 'Group A', with Hong Kong being the third team. Two teams from each group will proceed to the next round, and unless there is a really big upset, India and Pakistan will proceed from 'Group A' to the 'Super Fours'.
All the teams that qualify for the next round will play each other in the 'Super Fours'. According to the tournament schedule, the Group A winner will play the Group A runner-up on the 23rd of September.
The two teams that finish on the top after the 'Super Fours' will play the finals. If India and Pakistan finish as the top two teams, they will play the final on 28 September 2018.
A Triple Treat On The Cards?
The strongest contender for this tournament is Pakistan, who won last year's ICC Champions Trophy, beat Australia in a T20 final two months ago and has been playing all their home matches in the last ten years in UAE - the host country for this tournament.
India is also a strong contender, given their high ICC ranking and enviable record against all the top ODI teams in the last one year or so. Bangladesh comes third, as they are an experienced team, and has reached many tournament finals in the last six years.
If both the teams indeed play thrice, it will be a treat for the fans and the media for many reasons - including the tensions between the two countries, and the political aftermath of Imran Khan's election as Pakistan's Prime Minister. It will also be exciting as both the teams are at the top of their game and don't play each other as regularly as they used to some ten odd years ago.
Similarity to Asia Cup 2004
The format of this year's Asia Cup is exactly the same as it was for the 2004 edition. Hong Kong qualified for Asia Cup 2004 - played in Sri Lanka - as well. The only team different from that edition is Afghanistan, who is playing instead of UAE, as was the case in 2004. In that tournament, India and Sri Lanka met thrice as India, Sri Lanka and UAE were in the same group.
Probable Matches Between India and Pakistan
Group A game on 19th September - Confirmed
Super Fours game on 23rd September - Date is confirmed, provided both the teams beat Hong Kong.
Final on 28th September - Provided they both finish on the top after the 'Super Fours' round.