KARACHI: With the 12th edition of Asia Cup set to begin on Tuesday in Bangladesh, Dawn looks back at the past tournaments of which India won five, Sri Lanka four and Pakistan two.
The inaugural competition was held in Sharjah — then the headquarters of the Asian Cricket Council — way back in April 1984. In a three-team round-robin, India, led by Sunil Gavaskar, beat both Pakistan and Sri Lanka to become the first Asia Cup champions.
Pakistan suffered the humiliation of being beaten by Sri Lanka in the opening fixture when Imran Khan’s side lost by five wickets with Roy Dias contributing an unbeaten 57 to see the Islanders home with 15 balls to spare in the 46-overs-a-side game.
India chose to skip the second edition staged in April 1986 in Sri Lanka due to straining cricket relations with the Islanders as a result of controversy-filled tour of the small island the year before.
Bangladesh made their debut but were no match for either Pakistan or Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka, captained by Duleep Mendis, sealed the title for the first time when they defeated Imran Khan-led Pakistan by five wickets at the SSC Ground in Colombo.
Javed Miandad was named man-of-the-match for scoring 67 in the final but Sri Lanka future skipper Arjuna Ranatunga was adjudged man-of-the-series.
Bangladesh hosted the third edition in October-November 1988 but lost every game in the four-nation tournament. Pakistan too had a dismal time as they lost to both India and Sri Lanka in the league round with all matches restricted to 45 overs per innings.
Roshan Mahanama, now an ICC match referee, hit a half-century to help Sri Lanka defeat Pakistan by five wickets at Dhaka’s Bangabandhu National Stadium in the first match of the tournament.
Powered by centuries from Moin-ul-Atiq (105) and Ijaz Ahmed (124) Pakistan annihilated Bangladesh by 173 runs at Chittagong (later renamed as M.A. Aziz) Stadium in their next match.
But India prevailed over their old rivals by four wickets in Dhaka when off-spinner Arshad Ayub sent Abdul Qadir-led team to 142 all out with career-best analysis of 5-21 in nine overs.In the final staged in Dhaka, Navjot Sidhu steered India to a six-wicket win over Sri Lanka by smashing an 87-ball 76 after Sri Lanka were dismissed for 176.
India retained the crown when they played hosts in December 1990-January 1991 in an event which saw Pakistan not competing because of political differences with the Indian government.
The Indians sealed a seven-wicket triumph over Sri Lanka at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata. Although in the league fixture at Cuttack Sri Lanka beat India 36 runs, while Bangladesh lost both their matches.
Because of a political conflict between Pakistan and India, the next tournament to be played in 1993 was cancelled.
But the Asia Cup made its return to Sharjah in April 1995 — 11 years after staging the inaugural edition — with lot of fanfare and buzz. As usual Bangladesh, still not a Test-playing nation, continued to be beaten by India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Pakistan, inspired by Inzamam-ul-Haq (88) and Aaqib Javed 5-19 in nine overs), crushed India by 97 runs in their opening fixture before losing to Sri Lanka by five wickets. That loss to Sri Lanka prevented Pakistan from making the final on net run-rate after the green-shirts had been depleted by the absence of captain Moin Khan (chicken pox) and Aaqib (injury).
Azharuddin played a captain’s knock of 90 and Sidhu hit 84 as they the pair shared an unbroken partnership of 175 to see India home in the final by eight wickets against Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka, hosting the sixth edition in July 1997, defeated Pakistan by 15 runs in the opening match at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. Ramiz Raja’s outfit then overwhelmed Bangladesh by 109 runs at the SSC Ground with Saeed Anwar (90), Inzamam (77) and Saqlain Mushtaq (5-38 in 9.3 overs) playing lead roles.
Pakistan’s hopes of making the final were dashed when their clash against India was washed out twice.
Sri Lanka clinched the title when they romped to an eight-wicket win against India thanked to Marvan Atapattu (84) and skipper Ranatunga (62) adding 96 for the unfinished third wicket.
Pakistan, at last, tasted an Asian title at the turn of the millennium under Moin Khan’s leadership when they won the seventh edition held in Bangladesh in June 2000.
For the first time Pakistan completed an unbeaten sequence of results, defeating Bangladesh by a huge margin 233 runs, India by 44 runs and Sri Lanka by seven wickets en route to the final where they survived an Atapattu century (100) before prevailing over Sri Lanka by 39 runs.
Sri Lanka were again the hosts when the eighth edition was played in July-August 2004 with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Hong Kong making their debut. The format was also changed to league stage, Super Four and the final.
Pakistan had no problems in beating Bangladesh (by 76 runs) and Hong Kong (173 runs) to top Group ‘A’. And despite winning against India (by 59 runs) and Bangladesh (six wickets), Pakistan’s seven-wicket drubbing against the hosts meant Sri Lanka and India contested the final.
Sri Lanka sealed a 25-run victory in the title-decider to lift the Asia Cup for the third time.
Pakistan played hosts for the first — and only time — when the ninth edition took place in June-July 2008 with the 2004 format repeated and the UAE plus Hong Kong again competing.
Sadly, Pakistan, led by Shoaib Malik, failed to reach the final which was played at the National Stadium, Karachi.
Ajantha Mendis’ mixed bag of leg-breaks, off-breaks and ‘carrom’ balls completing bamboozling the Indians to take six wickets for 13 runs in eight mind-boggling overs as Sri Lanka won by 100 runs after Sanath Jayasuriya had earlier made a dazzling 125 in his team’s total of 273.
The Sri Lankan town of Dambulla was the host for the 10th edition in June 2010. And despite only the four Asian Test nations competing, a new-look Pakistan side, led by Shahid Afridi, disappointed as they failed to qualify for the final in spite of winning against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
India bagged their fifth Asia Cup trophy when they easily defeated Sri Lanka by 81 runs. The only consolation for Pakistan was Afridi being declared man-of-the-tournament.
Bangladesh hosted the Asia Cup for the fourth time in March 2012 and the staging of the event in that country once proved lucky for Pakistan who won their second title.
India and Sri Lanka, the other teams in fray, surprisingly didn’t qualify for the final which saw Bangladesh reaching it for the first time and almost pulled off a sensational victory at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium.
But Aizaz Cheema bowled a brilliant last over to give Pakistan a nail-biting win by just two runs and allow Misbah-ul-Haq to hold the Asia Cup trophy for his country after a 12-year hiatus.