In the lead-up to the much-anticipated Asia Cup 2023, Pakistan’s bowling legend Wasim Akram emphasized the significance of the tournament as a litmus test for subcontinental bowlers preparing for the 50-over format ahead of the ODI World Cup. Akram refrained from singling out any favorites for the upcoming competition, highlighting the competitiveness that will be on display.
With the Asia Cup set to commence on Wednesday, Pakistan will face Nepal in the tournament opener in Multan. Yet, all eyes are fervently fixed on the epic showdown between arch-rivals India and Pakistan, scheduled for September 2 in Kandy.
Addressing the media during a tournament sponsor’s event, Akram shared his insights on the unique challenges the Asia Cup presents to the subcontinental teams. He noted that the bowlers will be tested to deliver full 10-over spells, a different demand compared to the usual four-over bursts seen in shorter formats.
The tournament this year shifts back to the 50-over version after its T20 iteration last year, a transition that Akram warmly welcomed. He appreciated the decision by the Asian Cricket Council (ACC), particularly due to the proximity of the World Cup.
Akram highlighted the comprehensive nature of the competition, emphasizing that teams will be scrutinized on their fitness levels and strategic game plans. He underlined that the Asia Cup is an extensive tournament, not a one-off event, demanding consistent performance and sustained effort for success.
The legendary pace bowler refrained from making predictions about the favorites, stressing that all participating teams face formidable challenges. Reflecting on the unpredictability of the tournament, he cited the example of the previous edition where Sri Lanka clinched victory despite India and Pakistan being the frontrunners in predictions.
Akram acknowledged the pivotal India-Pakistan encounter’s significance but underscored the strength of other teams such as Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. He lauded India’s balanced squad, acknowledging their experimentation with new players and a fresh captain.
When queried about the sensitive topic of India’s non-travel to Pakistan for the Asia Cup, Akram maintained that politics and sports should remain separate, highlighting the importance of people-to-people interactions for fostering mutual respect.
Characterizing the Asia Cup as the “second biggest tournament” in the cricketing calendar, Akram emphasized its immense significance. He positioned it as a pivotal preparation ground before the grand stage of the World Cup, applauding the participation of all six nations and the excitement they bring.