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Asia Cup 2018 - an ICC Rankings View

The last time teams competed for the tile of Champions of the Cricketing World, the last three teams to remain in the hunt were all from Asia. 3 out of the 5 teams to win an ICC ODI World Cup have been from Asia. The same 3 teams have also won the next big tournament in Cricket, ICC Champions Trophy. If this is not enough to underscore the impact of Asian Cricket in the World, 6 out of 14 International teams officially ranked by ICC for the ODI format are from Asia.

Read on Scoreline Asia Portal - published 14/9/18

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It just not only highlights the impact of Asian teams in Cricket World but also the level of competition in a tournament like Asia Cup. There have been 13 editions of Asia Cup since 1984 and it is the longest running tournament in Cricket Calendar only behind ODI World Cup that was started in 1975. The 13 trophies have been shared between the same 3 teams that have also won ICC ODI World Cup and ICC Champions Trophy tournaments – India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

As the tournament gets closer, the usual debate about the favorite and strongest teams and the players to watch out for in the tournament has also started to pick up. Like always there is no consensus about it and there can’t be any consensus about it.

However, there is a system that ICC has adopted to quantify the performance of the teams and players. That is an official rankings system. In terms of official ICC ODI Team Rankings, here is how the teams participating in Asia cup are ranked

When awarding performance points for each match, ICC’s Team rankings consider the team’s performance regardless of players who played in the previous or current match.
For instance, India is currently ranked second in the world with 121 Rating points and Virat Kohli is the highest ranked batsman with 911 rating points. The common understanding says that India’s rating is a result of Kohli’s performance and an Indian team that includes Kohli and the one without Kohli cannot be considered the same. However, the ICC team rankings do not take (un)availability of any particular player into consideration. Hence, an Indian team, with or without Kohli stands the same in ICC Team Rankings.

On the other hand, a simple sum of Players Rankings before a match provides a closer reference to strength of a team. For example, an Indian eleven including Virat Kohli will have the same ICC Team Ranking as the one without him. However, the sum of ICC Players Ranking Points for the Indian team with Kohli and without him will not be the same. For the purpose of strength and form comparison, this method of weighing teams looks a bit better.
Let’s take that alternative look at the teams, then. Let’s try to quantify the strength of teams based on the rankings of the players in their squads rather than the ranking of the team itself.

ICC ranks players in 3 categories – batsman, bowler and all rounder. If all the individual ranking points for each member in the squad are summed up for each team, this is the picture it paints. Not surprisingly, Indian squad leads in each department followed by Pakistan and Sri Lanka – except in All-Rounders category.

An apparent surprise is Afghanistan’s ranking being better than Bangladesh in each department. Part of the reason is that the Afghan squad for Asia Cup includes mostly the same players that have been representing the country for a while with fair amount of success. On the other hand, although Bangladesh squad includes the performers like Shakib, Mustafiz and Tamim, they are also bringing fair amount of faces who are either new to international arena or not performing that well that consistently at International level. It also goes to show that Afghan players have not only produced performances worthy of impressing the world, they have also managed to do it with fair amount of consistency while maintaining good minimum standards.

In terms of players to watch out, here is the Top-10 list of highest ranked batsmen, bowler and all-rounders going to take part in Asia Cup.

Key takeaways:
  • Nabi is the second best all rounder on show
  • Rashid Khan is ranked higher as an all rounder than Pandya, Malik or Perera
  • Hasan Ali is a better all rounder than Shadab Khan
  • Rahmat Shah, not that well-known a name, is the top ranked Afghan batsman
  • On the aggregate, Afghanistan will be served by the second-best All-Rounders squad in the competition – behind only India and ahead of even Pakistan and Sri Lanka

If ICC Rankings to predict a course for the tournament, it would read:
  • Group B to be a group of death where Afghanistan is bound to progress through at the cost of either Sri Lanka or Bangladesh – most probably Bangladesh
  • India and Pakistan to feature in the Finals, making it 3 encounters in a period of 9 days and all of them in Dubai.
  • India to eventually win the tournament, even without Virat Kohli

Regardless of how accurate this reading turn out to be, the tournament looks set to produce some intriguing results. Let’s gear up and let’s hope for a couple of weeks of captivating Cricket.


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