Afghanistan begin as favourites
The Asian Cricket Council Premier League is set to commence from May 1 in Malaysia, with tournament favourites Afghanistan up against Hong Kong in the first match. The 50-over competition features six teams, of which Afghanistan, Hong Kong and UAE have ODI status. The week long competition comprises 15 matches, with all teams facing each other.
This edition of the tournament includes Nepal, who were impressive in the recently-concluded World Twenty20 in Bangladesh, winning two out of three qualifying matches. Shortly afterwards, Nepal's cricketers boycotted the national one-day tournament that was meant to be a selection trial for this competition, but called it off a week later.
Afghanistan enter the tournament as the team to beat. Although they had a poor outing in the World Twenty20 where they won just one match, they have the experience of playing against highly-ranked sides. They were impressive in this year's Asia Cup, which they were part of for the first time, and also toppled Bangladesh.
Hong Kong will enter the competition with the confidence of having beaten Bangladesh, in the last match they played in the World Twenty20. UAE gained ODI status after finishing in the top four in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in New Zealand; they lost the finals of that tournament to Scotland.
The last edition of the Asian Cricket Council Premier League was in 2012. The title was shared by UAE and Nepal after a tie.