New Delhi: Its close proximity to the upcoming ICC World T20 has made the Asia Cup, which will be played between February 24 and March 6 in Bangladesh, has made it all the more important for all the participating teams, including India and Pakistan.
Besides providing real match practice to the players, it will be instrumental in giving the teams a fair idea of their strengths and weaknesses and what changes, if any, they need to make going into the big event.
It is for this reason only, the Asia Cup will be played in the T20 format for the first time in the history of the tournament.
This year’s Asia Cup will be the 13th edition of the series that takes place once in two years, and will feature India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, in addition to one qualifying country from among Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Oman, and United Arab Emirates. The qualifiers will be played out before the tournament commences on February 24.
Bangladesh will be the host to all competing nations in the 2016 Asia Cup, with all matches set to be played at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium in Mirpur. The tournament opens with Bangladesh taking on India.
The final of the Asia Cup will be played on March 6.
A new rotation policy keeping the World T20 in mind has brought changes to the format in which the Asia Cup is to be conducted. According to the policy, the 2016 and the 2020 editions of the Asia Cup will be played in the Twenty20 format, while the 2018 and the 2022 editions will feature ODI matches.
A look at the squads of the participating teams.
India: MS Dhoni (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra, Suresh Raina, Ajinkya Rahane, Harbhajan Singh, Mohammed Shami, Pawan Negi.
Pakistan: Shahid Afridi (Captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Sarfraz Ahmed, Immad Wasim, Anwer Ali, Babar Azam, M Nawaz, M Aamir, Iftikhar Ahmed, M Irfan, Rumman Raees, Wahab Riaz, Khurram Manzoor.
Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (Captain), Shakib Al Hasan, Imrul Kayes, Mohammad Mithun, Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur Rahim, Soumya Sarkar, Sabbir Rahman, Nasir Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Al-Amin Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Arafat Sunny, Abu Hider, Nurul Hasan
Afghanistan: Asghar Stanikzai (Captain), Noor Ali Zadran, Mohammad Shahzad, Usman Ghani, Mohammad Nabi, Karim Sadiq, Shafiqullah, Rashid Khan, Amir Hamza, Dawlat Zadran, Shapoor Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Samiullah Shenwari, Najibullah Zadran, Yamin Ahmadzai
Hong Kong: Tanwir Afzal (Captain), Aizaz Khan, Anshy Rath, Babar Hayat, Christopher Carter, Mark Chapman, Haseeb Amjad, Adil Mehmood, Nadeem Ahmed, Nizakat Khan, Kinchit Shah, Ninad Shah, Tanveer Ahmed, Waqas Barkat, Waqas Khan
Oman: Sultan Ahmed (Captain & wicketkeeper), Aamir Kaleem (vice-captain), Aaqib Sulehri, Adnan Ilyas, Amir Ali, Munis Ansari, Bilal Khan, Jatinder Singh, Ajay Lalcheta, Mehran Khan, Rajeshkumar Ranpura, Sufyan Mehmood, Vaibhav Wategaonkar, Zeeshan Maqsood, Zeeshan Siddiqui.
UAE: Amjad Javed (Captain), Mohammad Kaleem, Rohan Mustafa, Shaiman Anwar, Mohammad Shahzad, Swapnil Patil (VC), Usman Mushtaq, Ahmed Raza, Zaheer Maqsood, Mohammad Naveed, Farhan Ahmed, Qadeer Ahmed, Mohammad Usman, Fahad Tariq, Saqlain Haider