Asia Cup will return with the One-Day International (ODI) format in August. In 2018, the Asia Cup was played in the ODI format, and India emerged as the champions under the captaincy of Rohit Sharma, beating Bangladesh in the final. Virat Kohli, the then-India skipper, was rested for the series.
Rohit, the deputy of Kohli, was given the reins of the side for the tournament and delivered desired results to Indian fans with his leadership. In the absence of Kohli, Rohit played his part exceptionally and led India to the seventh title triumph. This year, all regular skippers will play in the important continental tournament. In case regular skippers fail to show up in the competition, their second in command will take up the leadership role.
Talking more, here are the backup skippers of all teams
6. Nepal – Aarif Sheikh
In November 2022, Rohit Paudel was appointed Nepal’s captain. Nepal beat the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the ACC Men’s Premier Cup final in May and qualified for the Asia Cup 2023. In the Asia Cup 2023, Nepal are placed in Group A, along with the heavyweights India and Pakistan.
In the crucial series, Paudel will look to lead from the front, but if he gets ruled out of the tournament due to some circumstances, the question will arise of who is going to take charge. Currently, Nepal does not have a vice-captain, but in the squad, there are some experienced names who could lead the side in Paudel’s unavailability.
Aarif Sheikh, who is active in the international circuit since 2018, is capable of captaining the team. During his initial cricketing days, Sheikh served the Nepal Under-19 side as a vice-captain. In his five-year ODI career, Sheikh has amassed 878 runs in 40 innings of 47 ODIs at a strike rate of 62.44.
5. Afghanistan – Rahmat Shah
Currently, Hashmatullah Shahidi is the captain of Afghanistan and will look to help his team put up a solid performance in the Asia Cup 2023 with his leadership skills. Rahmat Shah, the 29-year-old all-rounder, is the Shahidi’s deputy and will also strive to help Hashmatullah with his experience.
Shahidi must be seen captaining the team in the 2023 Asia Cup, realising the importance of Afghanistan’s preparation for the 2023 World Cup. Shah, who is the vice-captain of the side, will also look to justify his role in the huge tournament. Rahmat has a lot of experience in ODIs as he is playing the longest format of white-ball cricket since March 2013.
So far, Shah has amassed 3181 runs with five tons and 23 half-centuries in 87 innings. These numbers have made him a credible figure in the team to assist Hashmatullah.
4. Bangladesh – Litton Das
Litton Das is currently the vice-captain of Bangladesh’s cricket team. The right-handed batter has proven himself in the Bangla squad in his eight-year ODI career. Serving Bangladesh since June 2015, Das has scored 2121 runs with five tons and nine half-centuries in 69 ODIs at a strike rate of 88.26.
Bangladesh regular skipper Tamim Iqbal got ruled out of the India series at home in December 2022 due to his groin injury. In Tamim’s absence, Das became the captain and led his team to a 2-1 victory against the Men in Blue. With the series victory against India, the dashing right-handed wicketkeeper showed that he has the ability to fill the leadership void in critical situations.
In the upcoming Asia Cup 2023, Tamim will spearhead Bangladesh. Das, the vice-captain, will look forward to assisting his senior colleague with his tactical suggestions. Das was the second-leading run-scorer for Bangladesh in the 2018 edition of the Asia Cup, notching up 181 runs in six games at a strike rate of 86.19.
3. Sri Lanka- Kusal Mendis
Sri Lanka will defend the title as they won the 2022 edition of the Asia Cup held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Under Dasun Shanka, the island nation won the tournament comfortably, beating favourites India and Pakistan. However, things will be different in the upcoming Asia Cup, as the previous installment of the continental championship was played in the T20 format.
In the 2023 edition, Sri Lanka’s performance has not been great in the one-day format as they faced a hammering from India and New Zealand. Against Afghanistan, they registered a 2-1 victory at home, but in the Asia Cup, things won’t be easy as India and Pakistan are quality sides, and they have the capability to dominate Shanka and Co.
Kusal Mendis, Sri Lanka’s vice-captain and wicketkeeper-batter, will look to chalk out a plan along with his skipper to bag another Asia Cup trophy. Mendis played an instrumental role in the last edition of the Asia Cup, accumulating 155 runs in six matches at a strike rate of 156.56. In 2023, his endeavours will be to scintillate the tournament again to help Sri Lanka defend the title.
2. Pakistan – Shadab Khan
Shadab Khan is an important member of the Pakistan team in white-ball cricket. In his six-year career so far, the leg-spinner convinced the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to hand him the role of vice-captain. Ahead of the home series against New Zealand in April-May, there were reports that Shadab could be removed from the vice-captaincy post following Pakistan’s embarrassing T20I series defeat against Afghanistan in March.
However, PCB maintained their confidence in Shadab, and he continued in the team as a vice-captain in the New Zealand series. In 2023 Pakistan will jointly host Asia Cup 2023 with Sri Lanka. Shadab, as a vice-captain, will look to prove himself in the team by helping the team lift the coveted Asia Cup trophy after 11 years.
In case Babar does not appear in the fabled tournament, Shadab could also be seen handling the leadership responsibility. If that happens, the 24-year-old will look to grab that chance as a skipper with both hands.
1. India – Hardik Pandya
As we discussed how Rohit Sharma, India’s stand-in captain in the 2018 Asia Cup, lifted the Asia Cup trophy for India in 2018 with his leadership skills. Hardik Pandya, who has led India in a few T20 International matches, might be seen as India’s vice-captain in the 2023 Asia Cup.
Considering Rohit’s age, Pandya is considered the future white-ball captain of India. Ahead of the World Cup 2023 in India, Rohit won’t like to miss the Asia Cup 2023 to make India’s preparation stronger for the marquee ODI event held in India. However, if Rohit fails to participate in the continental tournament, Hardik has the potential to prove his captaincy skills just like Rohit did in the 2018 edition of the tournament.
Although Hardik’s leadership didn’t get tested in the One-Day format yet, it could be said that the 29-year-old could utilise his leadership talent and win the Asia Cup title for the Men in Blue if Sharma takes a rest prior to the World Cup 2023.