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Looking back at the two Asian Test Championships

Lav Kumar
ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
285   //    Timeless

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Asian Test Championship was a Test format tournament which was held between the Asian Test-playing cricketing nations - India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh.

So far it has been held only twice. It was first played in 1999 and was planned to be played every 2 years alternatively with the Asia Cup. Second Asian Test Championship was held in 2001-2002.

It was only the second tournament which involved more than 2 nations in a Test Cricket format after the 1912 Triangular Series, which was held between Australia, England and South Africa. 

In 2006 The Asian Cricket Council cancelled the Asian Test Championship post which it was never conducted.

Asian Test Championship 1999

This was the first Asian Test Championship and was held between 16th February to 16th March 1999. Bangladesh was not a part of this tournament as they were not provided with the Test status by ICC. Points System for this tournament was as follows:

A win was worth 12 points and 6 points were awarded in case of a tie. No points were given in case of a draw or a loss. Bonus points were awarded based on the first innings batting and bowling performance.

In batting, if a team scored more than 350 in 100 overs 4 points were given. For a score between 300-349 3 points were awarded. 2 points were awarded for a score between 225-299 and 1 point for a score between 150-224.

In case of bowling, for taking 9 or more wickets, 4 points were awarded. 3 points were awarded for taking 7-8 wickets, 2 points for 5-6 wickets and 1 point for 3-4 wickets. Each team had to play one match with the two other teams in a round-robin fashion and the top 2 teams qualified for the finals.

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The first match was played between India and Pakistan at Eden Gardens

Pakistan in the first innings was struggling at 26/6 at one stage but important contribution from Wasim Akram, Salim Malik and fifty from Moin Khan took Pakistan to 185. Srinath took a fifer in the first innings. India in reply was out for 223 with S Ramesh's 79 being the highest. Shoaib Akhtar clean bowled Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar in successive deliveries in the first innings.

In the second innings, Saeed Anwar scored an unbeaten 188 and took Pakistan to 316. Mohammad Yusuf also scored a fifty. Srinath took 8 wickets in this innings. India had to score 279 to win in the fourth innings. India had a solid opening partnership of 108 but after that, it struggled to have partnerships and lost wickets at regular intervals and was all out for 232. India lost the match by 46 runs. Saeed Anwar and Srinath were awarded the man of the match awards.

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The second match was played between India and Sri Lanka in Colombo

Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga won the toss and invited India to bat first. S Ramesh continued his form from the first match and scored a brilliant 143. He was equally supported by Rahul Dravid who also scored a century. Ramesh and Rahul Dravid had a 232 run partnership for the second wicket.

Sachin's 53 from 54 balls, Azharuddin's 87 and Ganguly's 56 helped India post a mammoth total of 518/7. Sri Lanka gave a fitting reply to the Indian score of 518 by scoring 485. Jayawardene played a marathon inning of 242 from 465 balls. There was not much contribution from the other batsmen except Ranatunga. Sri Lankan's response of 485 meant that only one result was possible from the test match. In the second innings, Saurav Ganguly scored 78 and Sachin Tendulkar scored 124 not out and the match ended in a draw.

Mahela Jayawardene was awarded the man of the match for his match-saving innings.

The third match was played between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Lahore

Wasim Akram won the toss and elected to bat first. Saaed Anwar was clean bowled by Wickramasinghe in the first over itself. Wajahatullah Wasti and Imran Nazir stabilized the innings and shared a 105 run partnership. Wasti went on to score 133. Important contributions from Mohammad Yousuf and Moin Khan took Pakistan to 398.

Wickramasinghe picked 6 wickets in the first innings. In reply, Russel Arnold's 123 and Kaluwitharana's 100 took Sri Lanka to a respectable score of 328. Saqlain Mushtaq and Wasim Akram picked 4 wickets each.

With a lead of just 70 runs, Pakistan opened with Shahid Afridi and Wajahatullah and both didn't disappoint. Afridi scored 84 from just 118 deliveries and Wajahatullah scored another century in the match.

There were not many contributions from the others and Pakistan declared at 314/8. Sri Lanka needed 385 runs in the fourth innings to win the match but the Sri Lankans didn't take any risk and played for a draw. They lost just 2 wickets for a score of 165 after which the match was drawn.

Wajahatullah Wasti for his twin hundreds in the match was awarded the man of the match.

Sri Lanka and India didn't have any points from the matches as both didn't win any match but Sri Lanka had 6 bonus points from batting and 5 from bowling whereas India only had 5 from batting and 5 from bowling. With the extra bonus point, Sri Lanka qualified for the final against Pakistan.

Final Match Sri Lanka versus Pakistan

The final match of the first Asian Test Championship was played in Dhaka on March 12, 1999. Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat first. They didn't have a great start and lost the top three batsmen at a score of just 19. Then Marvan Atapattu and Sri Lankan captain Aravinda de Silva built a partnership to anchor the innings.

De Silva's 72 was the highest score and no other batsman crossed the 50 run mark. They were bowled out for a below par 231. Arshad Khan from Pakistan picked a five-wicket haul.

In reply, Saeed Anwar and Wajahatullah Wasti shared a 75 run opening partnership. But this innings was about Ijaz Ahmed's 211 and Inzamam-ul-Haq's 200 not out. Both of them played all around the ground and took Pakistan to a mammoth 594.

Upul Chandana, the debutant, picked 6 wickets. Sri Lanka trailed by 363 and they needed a miracle to win the match. In the second innings, there was no big contribution from anybody and Sri Lanka was all-out for 188. Pakistan won the match by an innings and 175 runs and won the first Asian Test Championship.

Ijaz Ahmed was awarded the man of the match for his 211 and Wasim Akram was awarded the man of the series for his all-round performance throughout the series.

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