This September saw cricketing giants Sri Lanka win the Asia Cup for the sixth time, moving them to within just one victory of current record holders India, who have won the tournament seven times. What’s more, the islanders did so in dramatic fashion, falling to an unexpected and uncompromising defeat at the hands of Afghanistan in their opening game, before fighting back to win every other tie and claim the trophy.
So, with a record-equaling seventh Asia Cup up for grabs, the big question is: do Sri Lanka have what it takes to retain the title and join India on seven trophies? In our opinion, the answer is a resounding yes. Here’s why.
Other than India, Sri Lanka have won the Asia Cup more times than any other cricketing nation, with six victories in seven final appearances. That shows their ability to hold their nerve when the pressure is on. In fact, Sri Lanka actually boast a better win percentage (68%) than India (65.6%) when it comes to One Day International (ODI) Asia Cup games (the format that the 2023 edition will take). Clearly, they have history on their side and the victory in 2022 will only breathe further confidence into their already buoyant ranks.
The choice of venue for the 2023 Asia Cup is somewhat controversial, since the fierce rivalry between India and Pakistan means the former has not traveled to the latter since 2008. Although the final venue host has yet to be confirmed, at the time of writing Pakistan looks set to continue in that role despite India’s misgivings, which may mean that both of those nations could be distracted by political matters once the tournament starts. Oh, and Pakistan has been host once before, in 2008… guess who won that year? Yep, Sri Lanka.
In early January 2023, the ACC clarified the format which the 2023 Asia Cup would take and made the draw for the group stages. While India and Pakistan have been placed alongside one another, Sri Lanka will face the same opponents (Afghanistan and Bangladesh) as it did in 2022. Of course, Afghanistan sprang a surprise defeat on them in the opening game of that tournament, but Sri Lanka reaped their revenge in the Super Four and will be confident of repeating the trick come September.
Perhaps the most important factor in Sri Lanka’s favor, however, is the wealth of talent at their disposal. Wanindu Hasaranga claimed Player of the Series following a stellar performance throughout the Asia Cup 2022, while Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Pathum Nissanka both recorded impressive batting totals during the competition. But aside from their stars, the Sri Lankans enjoy excellent strength in depth and a strong team spirit. With not one member of their squad aged over 35 in the 2022 edition, it’s feasible that every member could return this year. That kind of continuity cannot be underestimated.
Sri Lanka made history by claiming their sixth Asia Cup in 2022… can they go one better and equal India’s record in 2023? Visit https://www.sportsadda.com/cricket/scores-fixtures to check out the latest odds and place your bets on who you think will come out on top later this year.