This year's ACC Trophy, held for the first time in Kuwait, will showcase the foremost gathering of cricketing talent in Asia below the Test-playing countries. Afghanistan start as favourites. Already an ODI nation, winners of the ACC Twenty20 last November , winners of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier, first-class cricketing phenomenons and with a string of ODI victories under their belt they are good enough to play with the very best as they will do in the ICC World Twenty20 next month.
“Afghanistan have come through as the strongest challengers for the Test-playing countries. This ACC Trophy, unlike the previous three, is not an Asia Cup qualifier for the finalists, but winning this event will demonstrate a strong competive pedigree. It was from a previous ACC Trophy victory that Bangladesh emerged as a serious international competitor. 50-over cricket is still a great test of a players’ ability and the ACC Trophy this year and in future years will help to create the ideal conditions for Asian teams’ qualification for future World Cups.”
|UAE - 2006 ACC Trophy Winners|
|Hong Kong - 2008 ACC Trophy Winners|
Challenging Afghanistan will be the UAE, who made the ACC Trophy their own from 2000 until losing it to Hong Kong in 2008. They have a strong international record of success of their own. Ably led by Khurram Khan and stacked with ODI-players, UAE have all the ingredients of success. Hong Kong are defending champions and bring a team to Kuwait very similar to the one which beat in the 2008 final. Singapore are also one of the few teams to have beaten Afghanistan in recenty years and on their day can beat anybody.
A revitalised Nepal, playing a more dynamic brand of cricket than ever before, fresh off a World Cricket League triumph are also capable of going all the way. Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait are also in the frame but may find the ordeal of playing so many games back-to-back too much for their fitness levels. Nevertheless, along with Malaysia, these teams could have a significant impact on the tournament by clinching a win against the higher ranked teams. Oman have some powerful batters and have a varied bowling attack and just may spring more than one surprise in the event. Newcomers Bhutan will do very well to stay in the Elite group. Their rise from the Challenge Division up to the Elite in recent years has shown great merit and the experience of playing at the same level as the more established teams could help them stay above the chasing pack of challengers.
Filed March 30th, 2010