The Asia Cup might be a prestigious event, but it has seldom been precious about its format. Sometimes it has permitted non-Test sides to play, sometimes not. Mostly, it has been played in the 50-over format – as it will be in Dubai and Abu Dhabi next month – but last time it was Twenty20.
Qualification – on those occasions when it was available – was formerly via the ACC Trophy. The UAE were the most successful side in that event, winning it six times, and thus playing at the Asia Cup in 2004 and 2008. They returned last time, too, when they won a T20 qualifying round in Bangladesh.
1996 (Hosts Malaysia) Winners: Bangladesh. Runners up: UAE
1998 (Nepal) Winners: Bangladesh. Runners up: Malaysia
2000 (UAE) Winners: UAE. Runners up: Hong Kong
2002 (Singapore) Winners: UAE. Runners up: Nepal
2004 (Nepal) Winners: UAE. Runners up: Oman
2006 (Malaysia) Winners: UAE. Runners up: Hong Kong
2008 (Malaysia) Winners: Hong Kong. Runners up: UAE
2010 (Kuwait) Winners: Afghanistan. Runners up: Nepal
2012 (UAE) Nepal and UAE tied the final
… and last time
At the most recent Asia Cup, the first T20 version in 2016, the UAE comfortably made it through a qualifying group containing Afghanistan, Oman and Hong Kong, winning all three matches in Dhaka.
Asia Cup 2018 Qualifier:
Teams: UAE, Hong Kong, Nepal, Malaysia, Oman, Singapore
The winning team of the final of the six-team competition will qualify to play at the Asia Cup in the UAE next month.
Rohan Mustafa (captain), Ashfaq Ahmed, Shaiman Anwar, Rahul Bhatia, Imran Haider, Amir Hayat, Zahoor Khan, Adnan Mufti, Mohammed Naveed, Fahad Nawaz, Ahmed Raza, Rameez Shahzad, Abdul Shakoor, Chirag Suri, Mohammed Usman
Wed Aug 29 – Malaysia v Hong Kong, Nepal v Oman, UAE v Singapore
Thu Aug 30 – UAE v Nepal, Hong Kong v Singapore, Malaysia v Oman
Sat Sep 1 – UAE v Hong Kong, Oman v Singapore, Malaysia v Nepal
Sun Sep 2 – Hong Kong v Oman, Malaysia v UAE, Nepal v Singapore
Tue Sep 4 – Malaysia v Singapore, UAE v Oman, Nepal v Hong Kong
Thu Sep 6 – Final
Players to watch
Sandeep Lamichhane (Nepal)
The leg-spinner has been on the radar since he starred at the 2016 Under 19 World Cup age just 15, but this has been a breakthrough year. Fine performances for his national team were embossed by an eye-catching debut in the Indian Premier League for Delhi Daredevils in April.
Rohan Mustafa (UAE)
Mustafa was hurt by being beaten to the player of the tournament award by Lamichhane when both UAE and Nepal advanced from the World Cricket League Division 2 in Namibia in February. A month later, he oversaw the UAE’s finest win to date, when they shocked hosts Zimbabwe in the World Cup Qualifier.
Bilal Khan (Oman)
A highly-skilled left-arm seamer who has been at the forefront of Oman’s rise to greater prominence – most notably when they reached the World T20 in 2016 at the UAE’s expense. Their progress might have been checked at the WCL Division 2 in February, but Oman remain a threat.
Babar Hayat (Hong Kong)
The loss of their one-day international status, after the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe in March, belies the fact Hong Kong have produced a number of talented players of late. Mark Chapman now plays for New Zealand, Anshy Rath is interesting English county sides, while Hayat is their most explosive batsman.