Asian cricket giants square off ahead of World Cup | Cricket news

NEW DELHI: Upcoming Asian Cupwhich begins on Wednesday, represents the last opportunity for cricketing powerhouses India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to assess each other’s strengths ahead of the 50th FIFA World Cup, which is scheduled for October.
The fiercely competitive rivalry between India and Pakistan could potentially materialize in as many as three encounters if they progress through the stages of the six-nation regional championship. While Pakistan and Sri Lanka share the hosting duties thanks to a partnership agreement, a compromise resulting from India’s refusal to tour Pakistan, the tournament is scheduled to culminate on September 17 in Colombo.
Babar Azam‘s Pakistan, who secured the top spot in the ODI rankings after an emphatic 3-0 series sweep against Afghanistan, begin their campaign at home against Asia Cup newcomers Nepal in Multan on Wednesday.
Azam, who scored 113 runs in the Afghanistan series, leads the team with a triple fast bowling attack in Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf.
The World Cup is hosted by India, led by Rohit Sharmawill open their campaign against Pakistan in a much-anticipated clash at Pallekele on Saturday.

India and Pakistan, who only play each other in international tournaments due to the countries’ long-standing political tensions, are expected to meet again in the Super Four and could meet for a third time in the final.
“It’s not just Pakistan, there are other teams too,” Rohit said of the hype around Pakistan’s clashes, with the rivals also set to meet at the 50th World Cup in Ahmedabad on October 14.
“Sri Lanka won the Asia Cup last year. So there are other teams who play good cricket and will challenge us.”
Rohit said the Asia Cup was the perfect place to “test ourselves, test ourselves and put ourselves under pressure and respond to that pressure.”

India’s batting was boosted by the comeback KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer alongside Virat KohliShubman Gill and Rohit.
The FIFA 50 World Cup begins on October 5 in India.
Sri Lanka, who won the Asia Cup in Dubai last year when it was played as a Twenty20 tournament, have been hit by injuries ahead of their opening game against Bangladesh in Kandy on Thursday.
Fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera has almost been ruled out of the tournament with a shoulder injury and seamer Wanindu Hasaranga is a doubt for at least the group matches, having missed the Lanka Premier League final eight days ago with a hamstring strain.
Bangladesh have had a tough build-up with Tamim Iqbal stepping down as captain and missing the tournament with a back injury as he tries to get fit for the World Cup.
Veteran all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan has been re-appointed as captain till the end of the World Cup. Between 2009 and 2017, he led Bangladesh in 50 one-day internationals.
Afghanistan, despite their recent loss to Pakistan, can cause problems with a strong attack of Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi.
They also have in-form batsman Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who smashed 151 in the second match against Pakistan.
Minnows Nepal could be in for a baptism of fire as they have been paired with India and Pakistan in Group A. Group B consists of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
The top two teams from each group advance to the Super Four, with the top two teams competing for the final.
(With inputs from AFP)

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