Tournament review

Asia Cup, 2010

Sa'adi Thawfeeq

1. India 2. Sri Lanka 3. Pakistan 4. Bangladesh


MS Dhoni lifts the Asia Cup, Sri Lanka v India, Final, Dambulla, June 24, 2010
India won the Asia Cup for the first time since 1995 © Associated Press
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India won the Asia Cup for the first time since April 1995, after having one of those days in the final where everything went right. Sri Lanka had just beaten them in the last qualifying match, but when it counted India held all the aces.

All the matches were played at the Rangiri Dambulla Stadium. Ever since it was built in 2001, there had been criticism of the low output of the floodlights and the strong crosswinds that are quite common in this part of central Sri Lanka. These factors meant that toss-winning captains had usually batted first, to avoid having to chase under lights with the ball darting around. Mahendra Singh Dhoni was no exception in the final here, and his side ran up the impressive total of 268. When Sri Lanka's first five wickets tumbled for 51 the contest was effectively over: India ended Sri Lanka's recent domination of the Asia Cup, which they had won on the previous two occasions, in 2004 and 2008.

India's victory against a full-strength home team was even more creditable as they were lacking Sachin Tendulkar (who was rested), Yuvraj Singh (omitted) and Virender Sehwag, who pulled his hamstring in the second match and missed the rest of the tournament. Sehwag's replacement, Dinesh Karthik, played a crucial innings in the final and collected the match award.

The previous two Asia Cup tournaments had included Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates, but the crowded schedule meant this time there was no room for the minnows, and the whole thing was crammed into a nine-day window. Even that was only possible because Pakistan and Bangladesh made late changes to the itineraries of their tours of England, a fact acknowledged by Ashraful Huq, the chief executive of the Asian Cricket Council.

It didn't do those two sides much good: Pakistan lost their first two matches before handing Bangladesh a third successive drubbing in the final qualifying game. Pakistan, under their new captain Shahid Afridi, did play some excellent cricket - Afridi himself hammered two typically aggressive centuries, and was named player of the tournament - but they inexplicably lost the initiative at crucial stages of their matches against Sri Lanka and India. Chasing a modest 243 in the first match, against Sri Lanka, Pakistan lost their first four wickets for 32, and their last four for 21. Against India they were 196 for four in the 38th over but 267 all out - and Pakistan still had a chance until Harbhajan Singh pulled a short ball from Mohammad Aamer for six in the final over.

Controversy had erupted during Pakistan's first match, when Aamer was seemingly caught on camera using a mobile phone in the dressing-room area, in contravention of ICC regulations, as he waited to bat, with his helmet on. Team manager Yawar Saeed launched an investigation, which concluded that the pictures were misleading and that Aamer was not using a mobile outside his helmet.

Match reports for

1st Match: Sri Lanka v Pakistan at Dambulla, Jun 15, 2010
Scorecard

2nd Match: Bangladesh v India at Dambulla, Jun 16, 2010
Scorecard

3rd Match: Sri Lanka v Bangladesh at Dambulla, Jun 18, 2010
Scorecard

4th Match: India v Pakistan at Dambulla, Jun 19, 2010
Scorecard

5th Match: Bangladesh v Pakistan at Dambulla, Jun 21, 2010
Scorecard

6th Match: Sri Lanka v India at Dambulla, Jun 22, 2010
Scorecard

Final: Sri Lanka v India at Dambulla, Jun 24, 2010
Scorecard

© John Wisden & Co.