Asia Cup 2018: All you need to know about continental rivals

The 14th edition of the Asia Cup is set to begin from Saturday. The Continental bragging rights will be up for grabs as heavyweights and minnows battle it out in the six-nation extravaganza hosted by the United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi and Dubai). 

Asia Cup 2018: All you need to know about continental rivals

The 14th edition of the Asia Cup is set to begin from Saturday. The Continental bragging rights will be up for grabs as heavyweights and minnows battle it out in the six-nation extravaganza hosted by the United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi and Dubai). 

Here's a look at the teams: 

India

The 2018 Asia Cup may sound lacklustre without Virat Kohli but the Rohit Sharma-led India team are favourites to lift the trophy. 

Placed in Group A, alongside arch-rivals Pakistan and minnows Hong Kong, six-time champions India will look to get their team combinations right with the next year's World Cup in mind. 

Ambati Rayudu and Kedar Jadhav are a major boost to the Indian middle-order and are likely walk straight into the playing XI. 

After a stunning Indian Premier League season with Chennai Super Kings, Rayudu is India's player to watch out for. 

The right-hander played a key role in CSK's title triumph, scoring 602 runs in 16 matches at an impressive strike rate of 43.00. 

Kedar Jadhav - who missed the English summer after a grade two tear in the IPL opener against Mumbai Indians - will join Hardik Pandya to finish matches for India. Jadhav could also come in handy with his unorthodox off-spin. 

Squad: Rohit Sharma(c), Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, K Khaleel Ahmed.

Pakistan

It is a no-brainer that Pakistan possesses one of the World's best bowling attacks. The left-arm pace batteries of Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan and Usman Khan could trouble the opposition right-handers with their probing angle. 

Southpaw Fakhar Zaman - who is on a record-breaking spree- can prove to be an X-factor when Pakistan take on India on September 19 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. 

Squad: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shan Masood, Sarfraz Ahmed(c), Shoaib Malik, Haris Sohail, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan, Usman Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Asif Ali, Mohammad Amir.

Sri Lanka

After two major injury setbacks - Danushka Gunathilaka and Dinesh Chandimal - Sri Lanka enter the tournament low on confidence. The Islanders rely heavily on seasoned stars Lasith Malinga, former skipper Angelo Mathews and the hard-hitting Thisara Perera to come good against the likes of Bangladesh and Afghanistan. 

The Lankans - on the back of a horrible One-Day International season - will fancy an improvement in their ODI rankings when they meet Bangladesh and Afghanistan in the league stages.

Squad: Angelo Mathews(c), Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Upul Tharanga, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Akila Dananjaya, Dilruwan Perera, Amila Aponso, Kasun Rajitha, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera, Lasith Malinga, Niroshan Dickwella, Shehan Jayasuriya.

Bangladesh

The ever-spirited Bangladesh on their best day can topple top-ranked teams. However, they have often let matches slip away from being on the driver's seat. Their inability to finish is their biggest weakness. 

World No.1 all-rounder in ODIs Shakib Al Hasan could propel the-three time runners-up to their first-ever Cup win. 

Squad: Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Mashrafe Mortaza(c), Mohammad Mithun, Liton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim, Ariful Haque, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Mehidy Hasan, Nazmul Islam, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Abu Hider Rony, Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Mominul Haque.

Afghanistan

Afghan's cricketing journey is nothing short of a fairytale. They boast of lethal spinners in the format with the likes of Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and the seasoned Mohammad Nabi in their side. 

Leg-break bowler Rashid Khan, who has risen to stardom after his exploits in global leagues, will be looking to spin his team to a minimum top-four finish. 

Squad: Asghar Afghan(c), Mohammad Shahzad, Ihsanullah Janat, Javed Ahmadi, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan, Najibullah Zadran, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Aftab Alam, Samiullah Shenwari, Munir Ahmad, Sayed Shirzad, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Wafadar.

Hong Kong

The Associate nation has already had a mini-victory by merely qualifying for the main event. Hong Kong, who recently lost their ODI status, will look to gain as much as possible when they meet group heavyweights India and Pakistan. 

Squad: Anshuman Rath(c), Aizaz Khan, Babar Hayat, Cameron McAulsan, Christopher Carter, Ehsan Khan, Ehsan Nawaz, Arshad Mohammad, Kinchit Shah, Nadeem Ahmed, Nizakat Khan, Raag Kapur, Scott McKechnie, Tanveer Ahmed, Tanwir Afzal, Waqas Khan, Aftab Hussain.

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