The 14th edition of the Asia Cup will take place in the United Arab Emirates(UAE) from 15th September to 28th September 2018. It will be the third time UAE will organise the biennial cricket tournament. The tournament will be staged in Dubai and Abu Dhabi with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka playing the inaugural match of the tournament.
The 2018 edition will see the participating teams are increased to six from five. Five teams- India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka earned direction qualification for the tournament. The remaining team will be determined after a qualification round among Hong Kong, Malaysia, Nepal, Oman, Singapore and UAE from August 29 to September 6.
Change in Format
Asian Cricket Council has changed the round-robin league format and divided six teams into two groups. While the Group A includes India, Pakistan and the qualifier, the Group B consists of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The top two teams from each group will advance to the Super 4 stage. All four teams will play each other once.before two teams making the cut to the final.
India dominated the continental tournament winning the title six times including three consecutive wins between 1988 to 1995. Sri Lanka is not far behind India with the Lankans winning the title for five times. Pakistan also lifted the title twice.
Although India lost the three-match ODI series against England by 2-1 at the latter's home in July 2018, the Men in Blue will start the Asia Cup as the main contender for the glory. The defending champions won six times in nine ODI’s so far in 2018. India also won the title on both occasions when UAE hosted the competition.
The current World No. 4 in International Cricket Council (ICC)'s ODI rankings, Pakistan will also take inspiration from their dominant performance against India on the UAE soil to become Asia's best again after 2008. Pakistan locked horn with the arch-rival 26 times in the UAE winning 19 times.
Despite playing the 2014 Asia Cup final, Bangladesh is unlikely to repeat the success in this edition. Also, the things are not looking good for Sri Lanka in the continental tournament as the Islanders are struggling against tougher opponents in the ODI format.
However, considering their recent exposure, Afghanistan may also reach the Super 4 stage in the Asia Cup.