At the start of the Asia Cup 2023, the teams India and Pakistan are considered “favorites” for the title. Although it was the Sri Lankan team that won the title last time out (in the T20 version of the tournament), India and Pakistan are the absolute two favourites. While the Indian team has won the tournament most often, in the ODI version, Pakistan has really given it their all in recent years. Veteran Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin tried to decode the rise of the Pakistan side over the last five to six years and what makes them favorites alongside the Indian side this year in his Asian Cup 2023 preview.
“I used to be jealous when I looked at the Pakistan team. Five to six years ago they struggled in big tournaments like the Asian Cup and the World Cup. Yes, of course they have won major tournaments in the past. They won in 1992.” “He's been consistent in the T20 World Cup. The main reason for the rise in the last five to six years is attributed to Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan,” Ashwin said in one Video on his YouTube channel.
In fact, Ashwin also cited the experience of Pakistani players playing in various conditions around the world as a key reason for their improved ability to play on big stages.
“It all comes down to the strength of their squad. Pakistan has always produced exceptional cricketers. Because of tapeball cricket, fast bowlers were always joining their ranks. Their batting streak was particular in the late 90's and 2000's Different leagues has been a major reason for their reappearance over the last 5-6 years. You have PSL. There have been at least 60-70 Pakistani players in recent BBL drafts.
They play Test cricket and play in their own T20 leagues. But they also play all over the world in England and Australia and this year there aren't many Pakistani players in the CPL but they always dominate the CPL too. They play in the Emirati League, USA and also in Canada. When talent meets opportunity with different possibilities. At IPL we make sure talent meets opportunity and that's why we see more cricketers from different regions,” explained Ashwin.
“Therefore, not only has Pakistan produced world-class cricketers in the last five to six years, but these talents only deliver success on the big stages.”
If Babar Azam and Mohamad Rizwan stay together in the coming months, Ashwin believes it would be difficult to be Pakistan at the Asian Cup and the ODI World Cup.
“When Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan perform consistently with the middle class racquet,
Then Pakistan will be a damn strong team at this Asia and World Cup. It's going to take some beating. Pakistan is an exceptional team.
“Most of this year's Asian Cup matches will be played in Sri Lanka. Who else is better equipped for the conditions in Sri Lanka than Pakistan? Because almost all foreigners in the Lanka Premier League are Pakistanis,” he claimed.
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