Image © Raman Shiwakoti

Asia Cup Qualifier 2018 to initiate in Malaysia from tomorrow (August 29).

Here it is, we are very close to Asia Cup Qualifier 2018. Long discussion, analysis, and all those talks will come down to 9 days long tournament with 6 playing days, 16 matches. All teams preparation and opportunities to rectify their tactical errors is almost over. All that matter the most is execution of plan at defining moment and we are right behind that. Six promising Asian associate nations, who are punching above their weight, have narrow chance to compete with Asian cricketing giants (Test Playing Nations) in Asia Cup 2018. One among six participating sides, UAE, Nepal, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore will see themselves in Asia Cup 2018, starting from 15th September, against India and Pakistan in Group B. Each teams will face each others once, and top two finishing sides in points table will go against each other to hold that single spot of Asia Cup. UAE, Nepal and Hong Kong are consider as favorites to qualify whereas host Malaysia and Oman will go as dark horses. I will like to put under dogs tag for Singapore.

UAE –
UAE’s batting issue emerged out in their warm-up match against Malaysia’s President XI. They were bundled out on 186 runs inside 44th over. Bowling department looked stable as they dismissed President XI for 122 runs to achieve 64 runs win before all important tournament, Asia Cup Qualifier.

Player To Watch
(Rohan Mustafa)

Rohan Mustafa batting during ICC WCL II
Image © Cricbuzz.com

Last time when UAE participated in Asia Cup Qualifier 2016, Mustafa took out best from his syllabus against Afghanistan and scored 77 runs and 3 wickets. Yes, it was different format but the scenario and challenges are similar this time as well. Mustafa is having busy time this year as he is continuously playing good cricket. His outstanding performance saw UAE to claim ICC WCL Division II title on February this year. Mustafa’s bold captaincy and contribution helped UAE to produce some shocking results in this year’s World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe. He also represented Toronto Nations on inaugural edition of Global T20 Canada, and Team Chauraha Dhangadhi in Nepal’s T20 franchise league. He is clearly main weapon of UAE and he need to click on for them to qualify for Asia Cup.

UAE Winning Record On Asia
Since 2015

Matches Played – 20
Win – 9
Lose – 11

(No result/tie aren’t counted as matches played)

UAE have 45% winning record on Asia, comparatively less than Hong Kong, but we need to remember the fact that they hosted quality oppositions like Ireland and Scotland.

Nepal –
Nepal Cricket Team is enjoying their purple patch. Everything is falling on good place for them, despite of not having government cricketing body. Young middle order batsmen are taking responsibilities and slowly solving Nepal’s batting issue. Nepal toured Dubai for last round of World Cricket League Championship on last year’s December. Since then, they are playing regular cricket. Everest Premier League, Dhangadhi Premier League, Prime Minister Cup are their domestics duties in-between. They managed to go through Division II and claimed ODI status in Zimbabwe. They managed to level their first ever bilateral ODI series against Netherlands. They can’t ask for better year than this. It would be even more better, if they manage to qualify for Asia Cup to compete against India, whom they are watching closely since ages. They had fruitful outing to Sri Lanka before Qualifier, where they surpassed Lankan first class sides in all three matches. Their middle order, filled with youngsters, shone and showed tons of expectation.

Player To Watch
(Sagar Pun)

Sagar Pun batting during Prime Minister Cup
Image © The Himalayan Times

I don’t want to irritate you with either of Paras Khadka or Sandeep Lamichhane’s name this time. Everyone know they are Nepal’s biggest weapon. It is interesting to see, how Pun will respond to his comeback call. According to his interview with Cricketingnepal, he analysed his mistakes and worked hard to overcome those tactical errors. He played good cricket consistently in domestic circuit after being dropped out of the national side. He was second highest run getter of Prime Minister Cup 2018 with 211 runs in 6 innings including a century. He scored over 400 runs in recently concluded Malaysian Premier League with 2 centuries to claim batsman of the tournament award. His good show in Sri Lanka with Nepal cricket team in practice matches is likely to ensure his place in starting XI in absence of Sharad Vesawkar, who missed the tournament with finger injury.

Nepal winning record on Asia
Since 2015

Matches Played – 12
Win – 04
Lose – 08

(No result/tie aren’t counted as matches played)

Nepal have 33% winning record on Asia. It is too low but they have improved a lot in recent time. Their recent form is outstanding and they are favorites to qualify after UAE.

Nepal’s Spinner Dominance In Asia
Since 2015

Total Wicket Taken – 94
Wicket Taken by Spinners – 54

Nepal’s spinners have taken 54 wickets in their last 12 matches in Asia. They have 57% of total wickets taken by Nepal since 2015 in Asia. Nepal have dangerous spin twin of veteran Basant Regmi, young sensational Sandeep Lamichhane this time as well. Sagar Pun’s off-spin will also add fuel to Nepal’s spin bowling department.

Hong Kong –
Hong Kong was very unfortunate to lose their ODI status this year, despite of their good performance during last four years. They finished Asia Cup Qualifier preparation with a win over Malaysia’s President XI on August 24. Their middle order need to play collectively to put their chance to qualify for Asia Cup.

Player To Watch
(Babar Hayat)

Babar Hayat collects player of the tournament award of EPL17

Hong Kong’s batting will walk around Pakistan born batsman and captain of their side. Last time in Asia Cup Qualifier, he smashed century against Oman and hold the record of highest scorer for Hong Kong in T20 International. This time, qualifier will be on 50 overs format and Hong Kong’s highest individual scorer in first class cricket must anchor their innings with his destructive playing style.

Hong Kong Winning Record In Asia
Since 2015

Matches Played – 16
Win – 09
Lose – 07

Hong Kong have 56% winning record in Asia. They have all chances to qualify for Asia Cup, if they played their best cricket throughout the tournament.

Nepal will face Oman tomorrow, whereas UAE and Malaysia will fight against Singapore and Hong Kong respectively in their opening match tomorrow.

Leave a Reply