Asia Cup: Best XI of all time

Aug 26, 2023

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Sachin Tendulkar. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Asia Cup 2023 will be played from August 30 to September 17, 2023, and during these 19 days, cricket fans might witness excellent-quality cricket. This time, the continental tournament will be played in the One-Day International (ODI) format so it will be difficult for small teams to perform turnarounds against the tournament favourites India and Pakistan as they did in the previous installment of the tournament played in the T20 International (T20I) format.

As the competition is only a few days away, it’s essential for cricket fans to know about the heroes of this illustrious tournament played among Asian sides. In 39 years of its history, the continental tournament has got some incredible names who made it successful with their unprecedented performances.

Here is the best Asia Cup XI (ODI format) of all time

1. Sachin Tendulkar

Sachin Tendulkar is the most successful Indian batter in the continental tournament, scoring 971 runs in 21 innings of 23 matches (ODI format of Asia Cup) at a strike rate of 85.47. He also notched up a couple of tons and seven half-centuries. In 1995, India pulled off their fourth title, and Tendulkar ended up as the leading run-getter in the competition.

He scored 205 runs in four matches at a strike rate of 109.62. The Master Blaster also scored a match-winning hundred in the important league game against Sri Lanka. In the 2004 Asia Cup held in Sri Lanka, India lost to the hosts in the final and concluded their journey as runners-up. However, Tendulkar looked confident with the bat and became the third-highest run-scorer in the competition, with 281 runs in six matches with three fifties in six games.

In December 2012, Tendulkar announced his retirement from ODI cricket, and his last game in the format was against Pakistan in the Asia Cup 2012. Appearing in the continental tournament for the last time, he scored his 100th international century against the hosts Bangladesh in Mirpur.

2. Sanath Jayasuriya

Former Sri Lanka opener Sanath Jayasuriya is the leading run-getter in the continental tournament, racking up 1220 runs with six centuries and three fifties in 25 matches. He maintained a strike rate of over 100.00 in the tournament. In Sri Lanka’s 1997 trophy win, Jayasuriya played a vital role with his opening batting.

He scored 204 runs in four games with a century and a fifty. Playing in the final match against India in Colombo, he delivered a fierce knock of 63 off 52 for his team to pull off the target of 240 runs easily. Jayasuriya showcased his mettle in the 2004 and 2008 editions of the Asia Cup as well. In both installments of the tournament, Sri Lanka lifted the coveted trophy and the left-handed batter became the leading run-getter for his team.

Talking about his bowling performance, he took 22 wickets in the tournament at an economy of 4.48. In Sri Lanka’s 1997 victory, he picked up six wickets in four matches at an economy of 4.90 and ended up as the leading wicket-taker for his side.   

3. Kumara Sangakkara (wk)

Kumara Sangakkara is the second-highest run-getter in the tournament, racking up 1075 runs with four centuries and eight fifties in 24 matches. In the 2004 Asia Cup, Sri Lanka played aggressive cricket and became the champions. Playing the final match against India in Colombo, Sangakkara hit a half-century to help his side put up a decent total of 228 on a slow track. 

In 2008, Sri Lanka retained the trophy, and the wicketkeeper batter displayed his efficiency with the bat. He scored 345 runs with three centuries in six matches and ended up as the fourth-leading run-scorer in his team’s impressive title triumph. In 2014, the southpaw utilized his experience and skills to help his team become the Asian champions for the fifth time.

Featuring in the Asia Cup for the final time, the veteran put up a brilliant show with the bat. In his team’s scintillating victory, he contributed 248 runs with a century and a couple of fifties in five matches. Sangakkara is also the joint-most successful wicketkeeper in the Asia Cup, along with former India skipper MS Dhoni. Donning the wicketkeeping gloves, the Sri Lanka legend performed 36 dismissals.

4. Shoaib Malik

Shoaib Malik is still active in competitive cricket but the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) hasn’t picked him up for the upcoming Asia Cup edition. The right-handed batter is the highest run-getter for Pakistan with 786 runs in 15 innings of 17 matches at a strike rate of 90.65.

In 2004, Malik debuted in the continental tournament in style. His team failed to do wonders in the competition but he grabbed a lot of eyeballs for his magnificent batting performance. The Pakistan stalwart hit 316 runs with a couple of tons in five outings and became the leading run-scorer.

The Men in Green failed to be effective in the 2008 Asia Cup under Malik’s captaincy. However, the leadership didn’t take a toll on his batting performance as he scored 212 runs in three innings of four games. Malik’s bowling numbers are also decent in this illustrious tournament as he has claimed 12 wickets in 16 innings at an economy of 4.25.

5. Inzamam-ul-Haq

Inzamam-ul-Haq is one of the most revered names in Pakistan cricket as he made huge contributions to his side during his career with his remarkable batting skills. In the Asia Cup, he is the second-leading run-getter for his team with 591 runs with six half-centuries in 13 innings of 15 matches.

In the 1995 Asia Cup held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Pakistan failed to qualify for the final and disappointed their supporters. However, Inzamam, who was one of the young stalwarts in the side, looked decent with his bat. He accumulated 190 runs in three games at a superb average of 86.75.

Pakistan won its maiden Asia Cup title in 2000 in Bangladesh. Inzamam played an instrumental role with his bat. He amassed 175 runs with a couple of half-centuries in four matches. In his side’s 39-run victory over Sri Lanka in the final, the right-handed batter chipped in with his unbeaten 72 off 66.

6. Shakib Al Hasan

Shakib Al Hasan’s record is impeccable in the Asia Cup. The Bangladesh skipper has done his job efficiently with both bat and ball. With the bat, he is the third-most successful batter for the Bangla side in the continental tournament. He has scored 402 runs in 13 matches with three fifties.

With the ball, the veteran has clinched 19 wickets at an economy of 4.87. In the 2012 Asia Cup, Bangladesh qualified for the final for the first time and Shakib made a massive contribution with his all-round skills. He scored 237 runs in four matches at a strike rate of 110. 23 and ended up as the fourth-highest run-getter in the competition. 

His bowling numbers were also decent in the competition as he scalped six wickets at an economy of 4.97. In 2018, Bangladesh reached the final again after six years but this time, the 36-year-old failed to do wonders with his bat. However, his bowling performance was up to the mark as he took seven wickets at an economy of 4.56.

7. MS Dhoni (c)

MS Dhoni achieved a lot of records in his vast international career with his batting, wicketkeeping, and captaincy. In 2010, India won their Asia Cup title after a long gap of 15 years under his leadership. The former India skipper is also the most successful wicketkeeper in the Asia Cup, along with Sri Lanka’s former skipper Kumara Sangakkara, with 36 dismissals in just 19 matches.

Discussing his batting records, the veteran scored 648 runs with a ton and three half-centuries in 16 innings. In the 2008 Asia Cup, the Men in Blue failed to clinch the title with their humiliating 100-run defeat against Sri Lanka in the final but Dhoni, who was playing the continental tournament for the first time, scored 327 runs in five innings at an average of 109.00

When India won their fifth Asia Cup title in 2010, Dhoni scored 173 runs with a half-century in four games. In the high-voltage game against arch-rivals Pakistan, India got an intriguing three-wicket win in the last over, and Dhoni also delivered an important knock of 56 off 71.

8. Irfan Pathan

Irfan Pathan is the leading wicket-taker for India in the Asia Cup. The former India pacer bagged 22 wickets in 12 games at an economy of 5.54. India concluded their campaign as runners-up in the 2004 edition of the tournament but Pathan added an incredible feat to his name.

The speedster picked up 14 wickets in six games at an economy of 4.37 and became the leading wicket-taker in the Asia Cup edition. In 2012, India failed to qualify for the final losing to Bangladesh in the league round. However, India had started well in the series, beating Sri Lanka by 50 runs in their opening match. 

In the convincing triumph, Pathan had picked up a four-wicket haul to bundle out Sri Lanka
on 254. He removed important players like Tilakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene, and Upul Tharanga to help the Men in Blue hammer Sri Lanka comfortably.

9. Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram was known for his disciplined bowling during the 1980s and 1990s. Riding on his bowling exploits, Pakistan tasted success in a great many matches till 2003. In the Asia Cup, he scalped 16 wickets in 12 matches at a thrifty economy of 3.22, with the best bowling innings of 4/19.

In the 1995 Asia Cup, Pakistan failed to perform up to expectations and ended up in the third position in the league round. However, Akram showcased his mettle with the ball and racked up four wickets in three games at an economy of 3.14. In the year 2000, Pakistan won their first Asia Cup trophy in Bangladesh.

Youngsters Mohammad Yousuf and Abdul Razzaq became the heroes of this famous victory. Yousuf became the leading run-scorer with the bat while Razzaq ended up as the most successful bowler in the competition. Akram, who spearheaded the pace attack, also got four wickets in three games at an economy of 4.05.

10. Lasith Malinga

Lasith Malinga is the second-highest wicket-taker in the tournament played among Asian nations. He clinched 29 wickets in 14 games at an economy of 4.65 and also became the best pacer in the tournament in terms of bowling numbers. In the 2004 Asia Cup, he made his debut in ODI cricket against the UAE.

In his debut ODI series, he succeeded in getting four wickets in three games. Sri Lanka failed to retain their title in 2010 and ended their journey in the competition as runners-up. Malinga scalped nine wickets in three matches of the competition at an economy of 4.44 and ended up as the leading wicket-taker in his team’s unsuccessful campaign.

Sri Lanka got their hands on the distinguished Asia Cup trophy again in 2014, under Angelo Mathews’ captaincy. Malinga, the leader of Sri Lanka’s pace attack, stepped up and fulfilled his responsibility. With 11 wickets in four matches, the paceman became the most successful bowler in the series along with Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal.

11. Muttiah Muralitharan

Former Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan is the highest wicket-taker in the continental tournament. The spin wizard claimed 30 wickets in 24 matches at an economy of 3.75. In 1995, he made his maiden appearance in the Asia Cup and took five wickets in three matches at a frugal economy of 3.91.

With these numbers, he also became the most successful bowler for his side in the competition. In 2004, Sri Lanka clinched the coveted trophy for the fourth time, and Murali chipped in with six wickets in five matches at an economy of 3.25. 

Sri Lanka succeeded in retaining the trophy in 2008 and Ajantha Medis became the hero of this triumph as he bagged 17 wickets in the competition and ended up as the leading wicket-taker. Mendis got the support of the veteran Murali as well to bolster Sri Lanka’s spin-bowling unit. Following Mendis, Murali became the second-highest wicket-taker with 11 scalps in five contests at an economy of 3.83.

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