Starting XI: Asia Cup Team of the tournament

Afghanistan

The Asia Cup in Bangladesh actually turned out to be a rather interesting two weeks, with four Test-playing sides and Afghanistan providing oodles of entertainment, some surprises, and some exciting individual efforts.

The Asia Cup in Bangladesh actually turned out to be a rather interesting two weeks, with four Test-playing sides and Afghanistan providing oodles of entertainment, some surprises, and some exciting individual efforts.

As is tradition, the end of an event demands a Best XI, so herewith our contribution to that cause:

<b>1. Anamul Haque (Bangladesh)</b><br><b>Runs:</b> 227<br><b>Average:</b> 56.75<br><b>High score:</b> 100

Bangladesh didn't win a match in the tournament, but it wasn't for lack of trying on Anamul's part. He scored a century and a half ton in the four matches he played, and the 100 against Pakistan should really have been part of a win as they recorded over 300 runs. But his bowlers failed him then, as they did when he made 77 against India, and 49 against Pakistan. He was also solid behind the stumps, taking three catches against Sri Lanka.

<b>2. Lahiru Thirimanne (Sri Lanka)</b><br><b>Runs:</b> 279<br><b>Average:</b> 55.80<br><b>High score:</b> 102

The Sri Lanka middle-order man was shifted to the opening spot in the absence of an injured Tillakaratne Dilshan, and he took the chance with both hands. He was the only player to score two tons in the tournament, and his most valuable knock was in the final. His 101 was at a good clip, and laid the foundation for the win, and also helping Mahela Jayawardene end his 13-knock run without a fifty. Lahiru's other ton came against Pakistan in the opening game, getting his side off to the best start.

<b>3. Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka)</b><br><b>Runs:</b> 248<br><b>Average:</b> 49.60<br><b>High score:</b> 103

The chances of having a tournament on the sub-continent and not having Sanga in the Best XI are slim to none, and he again showed his value in Bangladesh. He may have ended with a duck in the final, but his 67 in the opening game helped the side beat Pakistan, and his ton against India was critical, coming off just 84 balls to see the side into the final. It was only the third time in 10 ODIs that Sri Lanka had beaten India. Behind the stumps, Sanga was his usual best, taking four catches and affecting a stumping.

<b>4. Mushfiqur Rahim (Bangladesh – capt)</b><br><b>Runs:</b> 197<br><b>Average:</b> 65<br><b>High score:</b> 117

The Tigers' skipper was the picture of frustration by the end of the tournament, as he played two matches without his star all rounder and tried to lead by example. His century was the second best score of the event, against India, and only Virat Kohli's 136 in the same game could thwart him. He added a 51 not out against Pakistan, before his bowlers again failed to defend a hefty score, and succumbing to Shahid Afridi.

<b>5. Fawad Alam (Pakistan)</b><br><b>Runs:</b> 188<br><b>Average:</b>188<br><b>High score:</b> 114 not out

Fawad only played two matches, but recorded milestones in each one. Against Bangladesh he made 74, and in the final he impressed everyone with an unbeaten 114, rescuing his side from 18 for three. His effort was in vain, as the earlier wickets made sure his side was 25 runs shy, but his eight fours and three sixes thrilled the crowd and made sure the final didn't fizzle away into nothing.

<b>6. Umar Akmal (wk) (Pakistan)</b><br><b>Runs:</b> 253<br><b>Average:</b> 84.33<br><b>High score:</b> 102 not out

let's be honest, how much better is this kid than his brothers? Both with the bat and behind the stumps, he is a good find, and he has been impressive since that scare about a brain condition. He scored a century and two fifties in the tournament, usually in crunch situations, and his 59 off 42 balls in the final thrilled the crowd. He's not AB de Villiers, but he's not Kamran either, and if he can make sure his glovework keeps improving, his parents will only have to worry about washing his green kit..

<b>7. Samiullah Shenwari (Afghanistan)</b><br><b>Runs:</b> 151<br><b>Average:</b> 37.75<br><b>High score:</b> 81<br><b>Wickets:</b> 3<br><b>Average:</b> 36.33<br><b>Best:</b> 2/34

The Afghanistan all-rounder was one of the main reasons the fan favourites recorded their first ever ODI win over a Test-playing nation. His partnership with Asghar Stanikzai, coming in with the side on 90 for five, was the reason for the win over Bangladesh. They went on to make 164 together, with Shenwari scoring his 81 off just 69 balls, as the side made 254. He then chipped in with the vital wicket of Mominul Haque. In their final game, against India, he scored an impressive 50, with his side later all out for 159.

<b>8. Ravichandran Ashwin (India)</b><br><b>Runs:</b> 27<br><b>Average:</b> 13.50<br><b>High score:</b> 18<br><b>Wickets:</b> 9<br><b>Average:</b> 18.55<br><b>Best:</b> 3/31

In reality, Ajantha Mendis should be here, but we felt bad for India. So Ashwin gets the consolation spot, ahead of Ravindra Jadeja, as he took two more wickets than him and the same amount as Ajantha (though in one extra game). Ashwin took wickets in each game, and had three-fers against Pakistan and Afghanistan. The latter game saw him and JAdeja rip through the minnows for an eight wicket win. Credit to him, his efforts here were light years ahead of how he went in New Zealand.

<b>9. Mohammad Nabi (Afghanistan)</b><br><b>Runs:</b> 65<br><b>Average:</b> 16.25<br><b>High score:</b> 37<br><b>Wickets:</b> 4<br><b>Average:</b> 35.75<br><b>Best:</b> 3/44

Afghanistan's captain was a solid if average performer during the tournament, but his most vital contribution came in that win over Bangladesh, which puts him on this list. He took the vital wicket of Mushfiqur Rahim, then the middle order scalp of Zaiur Rahman, who had already made 41, and then he ended the match by bagging Rubel Hossain with two overs to spare. His best batting effort came against Sri Lanka, where he was the top scorer for his side.

<b>10. Saeed Ajmal (Pakistan)</b><br><b>Wickets:</b> 11<br><b>Average:</b> 18.36<br><b>Best:</b> 3/26

The deck in Dhaka gave nearly nothing to the bowlers, but Ajmal managed to record his best tournament figures. He ended level with Malinga in terms of wickets, but with one extra game, and really couldn't have done much more for his side. He had the best economy rate of the top five wicket takers, and took at least one wicket in each game. Unfortunately for him, his colleagues couldn't back him up on the day.

<b>11. Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka)</b><br><b>Wickets:</b> 11<br><b>Average:</b> 17.18<br><b>Best:</b> 5/52

Malinga recorded two five-fers in the four games he played and was the top wicket taker. Both of those Michelles came against Pakistan, and in the final he took all the wickets Pakistan lost. The three top order scalps he took early on, leaving Misbah's men crumbling with less than 20 runs on the board, were match-winning, as Pakistan found themselves 25 runs short despite Fawad's century.

<b>Lindsay du Plessis</b>

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