Former Sri Lanka captain, Mahela Jayawardene is of the opinion that the addition of Afghanistan in the Asia Cup 2018 will add more spice to the tournament.
However, Afghanistan was part of the competition back in 2014. Back then, they had sprung a surprise by defeating Bangladesh. Later they didn’t manage to qualify for the 2016 edition.
Jayawardene pointed out that competing against strong teams like India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will surely help Afghanistan in their continuous growth.
“The Asia Cup has played an important role in the development of cricket in Asia and this year’s tournament in the UAE has even more spice by the emergence of a fifth major force in the region, Afghanistan, a team full of street-smart mystery. The tournament has played a really valuable role in providing a platform for the emergence of new talent,” Jayawardene was quoted as saying in his column for the Times of India.
Jayawardene expects Sri Lanka to do well in the 14th edition of Asia Cup. The Lankans will be led by Angelo Mathews. Despite injuries to some key players, Jayawardene feels Sri Lanka has the strength that can take them all the way in the tournament.
Mahela Jayawardene excited for the India-Pakistan clash
“For me, it was the stunning arrival of Ajantha Mendis back in 2008 in Pakistan, where he bamboozled all opponents with his unique style. I am confident we will see some new stars emerge this time, too,” Jayawardene said.
Meanwhile, he is also excited about the match between India and Pakistan. They will meet each other for the first time since Pakistan’s victory in the Champions Trophy final last year.
The arch-rivals have the possibility of playing each other, as many as three times in the tournament including the final.
“The tournament is, of course, special also because it’s one of the few occasions when we get to witness the spectacle and drama of an India-Pakistan contest,” Jayawardene said.
“It’s always a mouth-watering one, and millions will be looking forward to the big game next Wednesday. Both teams are probably also the favourites going into the tournament, although it remains an open competition by virtue of the fact that no team is dominating away from home right now.”
“India, even without Virat Kohli, have some formidable players and a great balance. Pakistan, meanwhile, always have that X-factor. They have the greater experience of UAE conditions. It being their second home for the past decade but that won’t be an overwhelming advantage as conditions will be familiar for all teams. Pakistan can draw upon their fast bowlers, as they have done historically. They have form in multination tournaments, having won the last ICC Champions Trophy,” Mahela Jayawardene concluded.