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    Triumphs in the ODI Asia Cup: 5 Remarkable Occasions of Successfully Upholding Low Scores
Triumphs in the ODI Asia Cup: 5 Remarkable Occasions of Successfully Upholding Low Scores
Asia Cup banner. Source: Cricket Times

Triumphs in the ODI Asia Cup: 5 Remarkable Occasions of Successfully Upholding Low Scores

A few of the occurrences can be traced back to the early years of the continental competition.

The contemporary One Day International (ODI) format heavily favours batsmen, with various factors such as short boundaries, thicker bats, flat pitches, two new balls, and powerplays all working in their favour. Even a score exceeding 300 runs is no longer considered a safe target in today's game.

However, amidst this prevailing trend, the Asia Cup stands out as a unique tournament. Being one of the most prominent ODI competitions, the Asia Cup is known for its intense competitiveness. It is in this tournament that we have witnessed instances where bowlers have made their presence felt, defying the odds.

Over the course of the 15 editions of the tournament thus far, there have been numerous matches where bowlers have played a pivotal role in successfully defending seemingly low scores. Let us delve into some of these memorable games, highlighting the occasions when teams managed to defend modest totals in the Asia Cup.

Roger Binny with Asia Cup. Source: Wisden
Roger Binny with Asia Cup. Source: Wisden

1. 188/4 by India vs Pakistan in Sharjah in 1984

The early edition of the Asia Cup witnessed a highly anticipated match between traditional rivals India and Pakistan, which turned out to be a low-scoring contest. This crucial encounter marked the third and final game of the tournament. India had previously secured a victory against Sri Lanka in their opening match, while Pakistan had started their campaign with a loss against the same opponent.

With India on the brink of clinching the Asia Cup title, Pakistan had the opportunity to spoil their arch-rivals' celebration. Pakistan commenced the match strongly with their bowling attack, restricting India to a modest total of 188/4 within the allotted 46 overs. Surinder Khanna emerged as the highest scorer for India, contributing 56 runs, while Sandeep Patil (43) and captain Sunil Gavaskar (36) also made valuable contributions with the bat.

However, Pakistan's batting lineup failed to support their bowlers adequately. India's bowlers proved to be formidable, dismissing Pakistan for a meagre score of 134 runs, thus securing the title of the first-ever Asia Cup champions. Roger Binny and Ravi Shastri stood out with exceptional performances, each claiming three wickets, while Pakistan suffered further setbacks with four of their players being run out.

2. 197 by Pakistan vs Sri Lanka in Colombo (RPS) in 1986

The opening match of the 1986 Asia Cup featured a clash between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Pakistan had failed to secure a single victory in the inaugural edition of the tournament in 1984, and their winless streak seemed likely to continue after Sri Lanka bowled them out for a modest total of 197 runs.

Although Mohsin Khan (39), Ramiz Raja (26), and Imran Khan (21) showed promise with their batting, they were unable to convert their starts into significant scores. Ravi Ratnayeke was the standout bowler for Sri Lanka, taking three wickets, whilst Ashantha de Mel, Don Anurasiri, and Arjuna Ranatunga each claimed two wickets.

However, Pakistan successfully defended their total by comfortably bowling out Sri Lanka for a mere 116 runs, securing an emphatic 81-run victory. Sri Lanka's top six batters struggled, with five of them being dismissed for single-digit scores, resulting in a humiliating defeat for the hosts. Zakir Khan, Manzoor Elahi, and Abdul Qadir shone with the ball for Pakistan, as each of them claimed three wickets in the match.

3. 214 by Sri Lanka vs India in Cuttack in 1990

In the second match of the 1990 Asia Cup held in Cuttack, India faced Sri Lanka. India entered the match with momentum on their side following a resounding nine-wicket victory over Bangladesh in the tournament opener. They began the game strongly, bowling out Sri Lanka for a mere 214 runs.

Kapil Dev and Atul Wassan were instrumental in India's bowling attack, both claiming three wickets apiece. With the bowlers having done their part, it was now up to the Indian batsmen to support their efforts. Unfortunately, captain Mohammad Azharuddin and his teammates struggled to make an impact with the bat. Whilst Azharuddin fought valiantly, scoring 40 runs, the rest of the batting lineup disappointed.

India eventually succumbed to an all-out total of 178 runs, falling short by 36 runs and handing Sri Lanka the victory. Sri Lanka's Rumesh Ratnayake stood out with three wickets to his name. However, India managed to exact revenge later in the competition by defeating Sri Lanka in the final, ultimately clinching the Asia Cup title.

4. 221/9 by Bangladesh vs Hong Kong in Colombo (SSC) in 2004

In the 2004 Asia Cup, there was an example of a team successfully defending a modest target. The tournament saw Bangladesh and Hong Kong face each other in their opening match held in Colombo. Hong Kong won the toss and chose to bowl first.

The Hong Kong bowlers performed admirably, restricting Bangladesh to a total of 221/9 in their allotted 50 overs. Initially, Bangladesh seemed poised to score a large total as they reached 123 for 2. However, a collapse occurred, and they found themselves struggling at 147 for 5. Despite the setback, Bangladesh fought hard and managed to reach a respectable total. Opening batsman Javed Omar made the highest contribution, scoring 68 runs.

Hong Kong had a golden opportunity to achieve a memorable victory, but they fared poorly in their pursuit. Bangladesh's bowlers maintained consistent pressure, resulting in Hong Kong being bowled out for a meagre 105 runs. Tabarak Dar's innings of 20 runs was the best individual effort for Hong Kong during the match. Bangladeshi spinner Abdur Razzak stood out, taking three wickets for just 17 runs.

Sri Lanka cricket team in Colombo. Source: Sports Tak
Sri Lanka cricket team in Colombo. Source: Sports Tak

5. 228/9 by Sri Lanka vs India in Colombo (RPS) in 2004

In the final of the 2004 Asia Cup, Sri Lanka managed to defend a remarkably low total of 228 against a star-studded Indian team. The summit clash took place in Colombo, with Sri Lanka winning the toss and opting to bat first. However, the hosts got off to a poor start, losing two wickets with only 31 runs on the board.

Nevertheless, Sri Lanka quickly recovered thanks to half-centuries from Marvan Atapattu (65) and Kumar Sangakkara (53). The partnership of 116 runs between Atapattu and Sangakkara looked promising, but it was eventually broken by Virender Sehwag. Following Sangakkara's dismissal, Sri Lanka lost their momentum and struggled to build a substantial total, finishing on 228/9 in their allotted 50 overs. Sachin Tendulkar was the standout bowler for India, taking two wickets for 40 runs.

In their chase, India faced regular setbacks, losing wickets at regular intervals. Batsmen such as Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, and Rahul Dravid were dismissed before the team could reach 100 runs. Tendulkar fought a lone battle, scoring 74 runs, but he lacked support from the other end. India eventually finished on 203/9, falling short of the target.

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