The modern day ODI game is all about batters dominating the bowlers. The short boundaries, thicker bats, flat pitches, two new balls, powerplays are some of the rules that have completely tilted the game in the batter’s favour. Even a 300-plus total is not considered a safe score nowadays.
Perhaps that is what makes Asia Cup special. One of the game’s biggest ODI competitions, the Asia Cup is also one of the most competitive ones. That is the reason why we have witnessed bowlers making their mark in the continental tournament every now and then.
In the 15 editions of the tournament so far, one has seen numerous matches where bowlers helped their team defend a total that is usually considered indefensible. Through this article, we are taking a look at such games where teams managed to defend low scores in the Asia Cup.
5 Instances when a low score was successfully defended in the ODI Asia Cup:
5. 228/9 by Sri Lanka vs India in Colombo (RPS) in 2004
Sri Lanka defended a very low total of 228 against a star-studded Indian team in the final of the 2004 Asia Cup. India and Sri Lanka were up against each other in the summit clash in Colombo. Sri Lanka won the toss and decided to bat first. The hosts made a poor start with the bat and lost two wickets for 31 runs.
However, they quickly recovered thanks to fifties from Marvan Atapattu (65) and Kumar Sangakkara (53). But once Virender Sehwag dismissed Sangakkara to end the 116-run partnership, Sri Lanka lost their way in the innings and finished on 228/9 in 50 overs. For India, Sachin Tendulkar was the pick of the bowlers, taking two for 40.
In reply, India kept losing wickets at regular intervals. The likes of Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid were back in the hut even before the team could score 100 runs. Tendulkar waged a lone battle at one end and scored 74 but did not get any support from the other end. India eventually finished on 203/9.
4. 221/9 by Bangladesh vs Hong Kong in Colombo (SSC) in 2004
The 2004 Asia Cup witnessed another instance where a team managed to defend a modest total. Bangladesh and Hong Kong opened their campaign in that competition by locking horns against each other in Colombo. Hong Kong won the toss and elected to bowl first.
The Hong Kong bowlers did well to restrict Bangladesh to 221/9 in 50 overs. At one stage, Bangladesh were on 123 for 2 and were looking destined to post a big total before a collapse reduced them to 147 for 5. The Bangla Tigers huffed and puffed to a respectable total. Opener Javed Omar top-scored for his side, scoring 68.
Hong Kong had a golden opportunity to register a famous win but they failed miserably. Bangladesh’s bowlers never really let them off the hook and they were all out for a paltry 105. Tabarak Dar’s 20-run knock was the best effort from any Hong Kong player during the game. For Bangladesh, spinner Abdur Razzak picked up three wickets for 17 runs.
3. 214 by Sri Lanka vs India in Cuttack in 1990
India and Sri Lanka took on each other in the second match of Asia Cup 1990 in Cuttack. The momentum was with India after their thumping nine-wicket win over Bangladesh in the tournament-opener. India started the game in a solid manner and bowled out Sri Lanka for just 214.
Kapil Dev and Atul Wassan picked up three wickets a piece for the hosts. The onus was now on the batters to compliment the bowlers’ efforts. However, captain Mohammad Azharuddin and his fellow batters failed to deliver with the bat. While the skipper played a fighting knock of 40 runs, the other batters disappointed.
India were eventually all out for 178 runs to lose the game by 36 runs. For Sri Lanka, Rumesh Ratnayake picked up three wickets. Later in the competition, India avenged the loss by beating Sri Lanka in the final and winning the Asia Cup title.
2. 197 by Pakistan vs Sri Lanka in Colombo (RPS) in 1986
In the first match of the 1986 Asia Cup, Pakistan and Sri Lanka took on each other. Pakistan could not win a single game in the first edition of the Asia Cup in 1984 and their winless run looked set to extend further after Sri Lanka bowled them out for a modest total of 197 runs.
While the likes of Mohsin Khan (39), Ramiz Raja (26) and Imran Khan (21) got the starts with the bat, they failed to score big. For Sri Lanka, Ravi Ratnayeke picked up three wickets while Ashantha de Mel, Don Anurasiri and Arjuna Ranatunga claimed two wickets each.
Pakistan then went on to defend the total with ease, bowling out Sri Lanka for just 116 runs to win the contest by 81 runs. Five of Sri Lanka’s top six batters were out for single digit scores as the hosts suffered a humiliating defeat. Zakir Khan, Manzoor Elahi and Abdul Qadir picked up three wickets each for Pakistan.
1. 188/4 by India vs Pakistan in Sharjah in 1984
The first ever match between India and Pakistan in the Asia Cup was a low-scoring affair. It was the third and final game of the inaugural edition of the Asia Cup. India had defeated Sri Lanka in their tournament-opener while Pakistan began their campaign with a defeat against the same opposition.
India were on the verge of winning the Asia Cup and Pakistan had the opportunity to spoil their arch-rivals’ party. Pakistan began well with the ball and restricted India to 188/4 in the allotted 46 overs. Surinder Khanna top-scored for India, scoring 56 while Sandeep Patil (43) and captain Sunil Gavaskar (36) also played important knocks.
Pakistan’s batters, however, could not compliment the bowlers. India bowled out Pakistan for a paltry total of 134 runs to become the first-ever Asia Cup champions. Roger Binny and Ravi Shastri picked up three wickets each while as many as four Pakistan players were run out.