Sri Lanka, India most successful
Pakistan and Sri Lanka are the teams that start their Asia Cup campaign on the back of some recent success. While defending champions Pakistan rode on a rare high in their batting performances to win their last ODI series with a game to spare against Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka themselves are coming off a 3-0 drubbing of the hosts, Bangladesh. They will also have the added advantage of being the most accustomed among the visiting teams to the playing conditions in the host country.
However India, in spite of the recent 4-0 loss to a lower ranked New Zealand, are a more potent side in subcontinent conditions as their spinners are far more effective here. Bangladesh can never be written off at home - a case in point being the last edition of the tournament when they punched above their weight, beating India and Sri Lanka to reach the final of the tournament. Afghanistan - who have won their last-four ODIs - are playing their first Asia Cup.
In ODIs in the last one year, India have been the team with the best win-loss ratio. Of the 32 matches they have played since last February India have won 18, for a win-loss ratio of 1.63. Sri Lanka are second in this list, with a win-loss ratio of 1.36.
There have been 11 editions of the Asia Cup with India winning the title five times, Sri Lanka four times and Pakistan twice. However, Sri Lanka have been the most successful team in the tournament in terms of win-loss ratio, having won 29 of the 43 matches they have played. India have won 24 of the 39 matches that they have played in the tournament, for a win-loss ratio of 1.71. Apart from the twin upsets that Bangladesh produced in 2011-12, they have managed to win only two matches - against UAE in 2008 and against Hong Kong in 2004.
|Team||Mat||Won||Lost||NR||W/L||Asia Cup wins|
Among players in the current edition of the Asia Cup, Kumar Sangakkara is the batsman with most runs in the tournament - his 827 runs have come at 48.64 with three hundreds and six fifties. India's captain for the series, Virat Kohli, is the top run-scorer for India in the tournament with 424 from seven matches, including 183 against Pakistan in their last Asia Cup match. Shahid Afridi - who is the only player with two centuries as captain in the tournament - has scored 429 runs in the series making him the highest run-scorer for Pakistan. Sri Lanka, whose top order has changed the least from the previous Asia Cups, have three batsmen among the top-five run scorers, with Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan making up the top five. Overall, seven of the eight batsmen to have scored 1000-plus ODI runs in the last one year are playing in the tournament, with Kohli leading this list with 1391 at 60.47 from 28 innings.
While the overall numbers do not indicate that spinners have done any better than fast bowlers in the tournament, the numbers fade in comparison for the fast bowlers since 2000. Their overall bowling average has increased from 28.54 before 2000, to 35.99 since then. Their economy in the tournament too, has worsened, from 4.13 before 2000 to 5.32.
Consequently, the top three in the table of bowlers with most wickets in the tournament are spinners. Bangladesh's Abdur Razzak has taken 20 wickets, the most by any bowler from the current squads. Ajantha Mendis - who holds the record for the best bowling figures in the tournament - comes next with 17 wickets at a staggering average of 8.52 runs per wicket. Saeed Ajmal has also done well, taking 14 wickets at 20.21 from seven matches.
Some of the best spinners in ODI cricket will be bowling in conditions that have been conducive to their style of bowling. In ODIs since 2000, spinners have averaged the least in Bangladesh, among countries to host at least 80 matches. Spinners have clearly enjoyed the conditions in Bangladesh with their economy and strike rate being the best here too.
Shiva Jayaraman is a sub-editor (stats) at ESPNcricinfo.com