The 15th edition of the Asia Cup is all set to be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from 27 August to 11 September. It will kick off with a match between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka on 27 August while arch-rivals India and Pakistan will lock horns the next day i.e. 28 August. A total of six teams will be taking part in this edition of the continental tournament.
While five full members, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh have already been divided among groups of two, the sixth team will come from the qualifier being played in Oman and will join India and Pakistan in Group A. Only India and Pakistan have named their squad for the tournament. The other teams are expected to do it in due course.
As the tournament returns after four years and is being seen as a preparation for the T20 World Cup, some thrilling matches are on the cards. With top players in action, fans are just waiting for the tournament to begin. What adds to the excitement is the fact that a few players might be playing their last Asia Cup and they would want to end it on a high. So, here is a list of five players who might play their last Asia Cup.
1. Dinesh Karthik
Dinesh Karthik made a remarkable turnaround in his cricketing career and has regained his spot in India’s white-ball squad. However, Karthik’s role has been limited to a finisher, and that too only in T20Is. The selectors are looking to utilize his finishing abilities which will help India in the Asia Cup as well as in the T20 World Cup. But after that, Karthik’s future looks uncertain.
Even if he manages to play some bilateral T20 series, it will be difficult for him to find a place in the ODI squad. And as the next edition of the tournament will be played in the 50-over format, Karthik may find it tough to get a nod ahead. Plus, with age not on his side, it’s only a matter of time before Karthik calls it a day.
2. R Ashwin
Like Dinesh Karthik, R Ashwin also made a comeback to India’s white-ball squad. The off-spinner has tweaked his game a bit and that’s the reason he is being tested by the selectors. But Ashwin does not have great numbers in T20s as of late. Playing for Rajasthan Royals, the off-spinner scalped 12 wickets in 17 games at an average of 41.92. It was surely an improvement from his performance in 2021, but he still lags behind. He might have got included in the Asia Cup squad considering the pitches in the UAE, but Ashwin’s future in white-ball cricket looks gloomy.
The Bangladesh all-rounder has a lot going on around himself. After serving a ban of two years, Shakib Al Hasan returned to international cricket but he is not the same old cricketer. A good performance here and there is not helping Shakib. Also, the 35-year-old has hinted that he may opt for one format (most probably T20Is). So, just like Dinesh Karthik, this might be the last appearance at the Asia Cup for Shakib Al Hasan.
4. Mohammad Nabi
The current Afghanistan captain and a terrific all-rounder, Mohammad Nabi has served his country for more than a decade now. The 37-year-old has played 92 T20Is for Afghanistan and with so much cricket being played Nabi might give retirement a thought. Like Asgar Afghan, Nabi might also hang his boots after the T20 World Cup in November. So, this might be one last ride for Nabi in the continental tournament.
5. Danushka Gunathilaka
Danushka Gunathilaka is the youngest player on this list but he is not so young for a team undergoing transition. Sri Lanka is getting back on its feet after lagging behind for quite a few years. The team has found a very able leader in Dasun Shanaka who is leading the team by example.
Sri Lanka is searching for more dynamic openers like Pathum Nissanka who can play all three formats with equal ease. Gunathilaka has been often termed as one of the finest cricketers but his numbers are not on his side. Plus, the injuries have also not done any good for the southpaw.