Asia Cup 2014: Winners and Losers from the Tournament
The 2014 Asia Cup came to an end on Saturday, with Sri Lanka coming out victorious over Pakistan in the final to win the tournament for the fifth time in their history.
Before the cricketing world moves forward to the ICC World Twenty20 later this month, let’s first take a look back at the Asia Cup and those who were involved.
Who covered themselves in glory?
Who failed to impress?
Read on for the winners and losers from the 2014 Asia Cup.
All stats courtesy of ESPNCricinfo.
Winner: Sri Lanka
The big winners of this year’s Asia Cup were the tournament victors, Sri Lanka, who won it for the fifth time in their history.
The Sri Lankans finished top of the league table without losing a game and went on to face Pakistan in the final.
It is a superb achievement for captain Angelo Mathews and his players and gives them some good momentum ahead of the ICC World Twenty20 despite their ongoing contract dispute.
Perhaps the biggest losers of this tournament were Bangladesh, the hosts who failed to win a single game in their own backyard.
All their defeats were by relatively small margins but to lose to minnows Afghanistan was something they were undoubtedly desperate to avoid.
They have now lost seven ODIs in a row, a deeply troubling statistic given their recent home series against New Zealand, which they won handsomely by a 3-0 margin.
They are guilty of forging winning positions for themselves but not hammering home their advantage, and it means the hosts have been outdone in games they could well have taken victory in.
Afghanistan’s upset of hosts Bangladesh by 32 runs could perhaps mark another watershed moment in the country’s cricketing development.
The Afghans’ triumph is all the more special given it was just their fourth against an ICC Full Member, and there are hopes now that it will give the sport even greater visibility in the country.
As coach Kabir Khan told ESPNCricinfo after their loss to Sri Lanka, Afghanistan require further exposure against the top teams in world cricket in order to gain more experience. Based on their displays here, they deserve the chance.
After some turbulent times in their home country, Afghanistan’s cricketers are giving their fellow citizens reasons to cheer.
They will want to use this as a springboard for further success in the ICC World Twenty20 later this month.
Loser: Mahela Jayawardene
Still one of Sri Lanka’s key batsmen, even at the age of 36, this Asia Cup was not a happy one for Mahela Jayawardene, who looked hopelessly out of form at times.
Before the final, he had scored just 36 runs at an average of 9.00, a very poor return for such a talented batsman who scored another Test double century less than two months ago.
The final brought some respite from his terrible trot for Jayawardene, as he scored 75 from 93 balls to take his side to the brink of victory.
However, the way he got out—swiping across the line at a delivery from Mohammad Talha only to see it caught at cover by Sharjeel Khan—shows he is still struggling.
With the backing of his captain, he will want to turn things around when the World Twenty20 starts later this month.
Winner: Lasith Malinga
Known for his fragile body and susceptibility to injuries, the Sri Lankans were rightly concerned about his health ahead of what was to be an intense period of matches for them.
However, in this Asia Cup tournament, Malinga showed that he is still at the top of his game with 11 wickets at an average of 17.18.
He will remain crucial in the ICC World Twenty20 for Sri Lanka, and he proved he is still one of the premier fast bowlers operating in limited-overs cricket anywhere in the world.
The world’s No. 2 side in One Day Internationals, according to the ICC World Rankings, India will be very disappointed to have won just twice in this tournament and to have missed the final.
Led by Virat Kohli after the withdrawal of Mahendra Singh Dhoni through injury, the Indians will count themselves as unlucky, having only lost to Pakistan and Sri Lanka by one wicket and two wickets, respectively.
Criticism mounted in their final game, a dead rubber against Afghanistan, when they went in with an unchanged side despite there being nothing riding on the game and some players showing obvious fatigue.
They must be very disappointed indeed not to have lived up to expectations and will be hoping for a vast improvement in time for the ICC World Twenty20.
Winner: Shahid Afridi
Sometimes, Shahid Afridi’s gung-ho aggression with the bat fails to come off and he is removed for a very low total.
However, in two games during this tournament, he was on fire and delivered his country vital victories against rivals India and then again just two days later against Bangladesh.
In their game with India, Pakistan were chasing a modest total of 246 to win but had struggled enormously to find themselves 200-5 when Afridi strode to the crease.
He went on to score 34 not out from 18 balls to almost single-handedly blitz Pakistan to their target, despite very little support coming from the tail-enders who were with him.
Two days later against Bangladesh, Afridi did something even more special, as Pakistan chased 327 to win a tight game.
They needed over 100 runs when he came in to bat but what followed was a demolition, as he hammered 59 from just 25 balls to swing the balance back in favour of Pakistan.
They went on to win by three wickets and while Afridi was not around to see the game through, his contribution was vital.
His aggression and form bodes well for Pakistan, who are hoping he can keep this good play up and take them far in the ICC World Twenty20.