As the Asia Cup 2023 begins, it’s the India and Pakistan teams that are being considered the ‘favourites’ for the title. Though it was the Sri Lankan team that won the title last time around (in the T20 version of the tournament), India and Pakistan are being seen as the two outright favourites. While the Indian team has won the tournament, in the ODI version, the most number of times, Pakistan have really pulled their socks up in the last few years. Veteran Indian spinner, Ravichandran Ashwin, in his preview for the Asia Cup 2023, tried to decode the rise of the Paksitan team over the last 5-6 years, and what makes them favourites this year, alongside the Indian team.
“I used to envy looking at the Pakistan side. 5-6 years back, they used to struggle in big tournaments like Asia Cup and World Cup. Yes, of course, they have won big tournaments in the past. They have won the 1992 World Cup and delivered a consistent performance in the T20 World Cup. The main reason for the last 5-6 years’ rise can be attributed to Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan,” Ashwin said in a video on his YouTube channel.
In fact, Ashwin also credited Pakistani players’ experience of playing in different conditions all across the globe as a major reason behind their improved ability to deliver on big stages.
“It all comes down to their squad depth. Pakistan have always produced extraordinary cricketers. because of tape ball cricket, they have always had fast bowlers coming through their ranks. Their batting has been special in the late 90s and 2000s. But their exposure to different leagues has been a major reason for their re-emergence in the last 5-6 years. They have PSL. In the recent BBL drafts they were at least 60-70 Pakistan players.
They are playing Test cricket and play their own T20 leagues. But they are also playing all around the world in England and Australia, and this year there aren’t many Pakistan players in CPL, but they always dominate CPL too. They play in the Emirati League, USA, and also in Canada. When talent meets opportunity with different exposures. In IPL, we make sure that talent meets opportunity and that’s why we are seeing more cricketers from different regions,” Ashwin explained.
“That’s why in the last 5-6 years, Pakistan are not only producing world-class cricketers but these talents are only delivering in the big stages.”
Ashwin feels if Babar Azam and Mohamad Rizwan remain on song in the coming months, it would be tough to be Pakistan in the Asia Cup and the ODI World Cup.
“If Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan gives consistent performances with the bat in the middle-order,
then Pakistan are going to be one hell of a team going into this Asia Cup and World Cup. It will take some beating. Pakistan is an exceptional side.
“This year’s Asia Cup’s most games will be played in Sri Lanka. Who else are more equipped for Sri Lankan conditions than Pakistan? Because almost all the foreigners in the Lanka Premier League are Pakistanis,” he asserted.
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