Asia Cup 2023: Team of the Tournament

After an action-packed two-and-a-half weeks, the Asia Cup finally concluded on Sunday (September 17), with India taking the trophy home for the eighth time.
India won the Asia Cup for the eighth time.
Several veterans stamped their authority, while a few young guns showed their capabilities during a caravan that saw almost everything.

After an action-packed two-and-a-half weeks, the Asia Cup finally concluded on Sunday (September 17), with India taking the trophy home for the eighth time. While the rain interrupted most games, it could wash away only one game in the tournament. There were delays and reserve days, and while the rain frustrated, it couldn’t take away the drama that unfolded on the field.

Several veterans stamped their authority, while a few young guns showed their capabilities during a caravan that saw almost everything. With the World Cup not too far away, the tournament served as an ideal preparation for every team and showed the areas to work on. Moreover, the Asia Cup 2023 helped the teams get into the ODI groove after an overdose of the other formats, particularly the T20s.

In this segment, we look at the best-performing players and try to form an XI of the tournament.

Shubman Gill (India)

Shubman Gill continued his fine form in the Asia Cup 2023 and ended the tournament as the highest run-scorer. In six outings, Gill made 302 runs at an average of 75.50 and a strike rate of 93.50, including two fifties and a century. Gill was the most fluent batter among all in the series.

After an early hiccup against Pakistan in the first game, Shubman Gill quickly got his stuff right with the willow. Gill’s best knock came against Bangladesh, albeit in a losing cause. On a tricky track, Gill made a sublime 121 but couldn't finish the job for his team.

Kusal Mendis (Sri Lanka)

Kusal Mendis was the best batter of Sri Lanka and the second-best in the Asia Cup 2023. He amassed 270 runs at an average of 45 and a strike rate of 85.71 in six innings and ended as the second-leading run-scorer of the tournament. The 28-year-old also hit three half-centuries, with his highest score being 92*.

Mendis’ 92-run knock came against Afghanistan to help Sri Lanka post 291 on the board. He ended with the highest scorer of the rubber, and Sri Lanka narrowly by two runs to qualify for the Super Four stages. Mendis was adjudged the Man of the Match for his vital contribution.

Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh)

Shakib Al Hasan was one of the few positives for Bangladesh in an otherwise disappointing campaign. Shakib scored 173 runs at an average of 43.25 and a strike rate of 97.19, including two half-centuries with the willow. He also scalped 3 wickets with the ball.

His best knock came in the last game against India, where he scored 80 to lead his team to victory. Shakib snared two wickets in Bangladesh’s opening match against Sri Lanka with the ball. However, his efforts were futile, as the opponent won the encounter convincingly in the end.

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Mohammad Rizwan (Pakistan)

Mohammad Rizwan has been one of the most consistent Pakistani batters in the past few years, and he continued his fine run in the Asia Cup. In four innings, Rizwan scored 195 runs at a 97.50 average and a 94.20 strike rate. He also hit two fifties, with 86* being his best score.

Rizwan remained unbeaten on 86 off 73 balls, including six boundaries and two maximums, in Pakistan’s do-or-die game against Sri Lanka. The wicketkeeper-batter rescued his team from the troubled waters to take them to 252 in this rain-interrupted game of 42 overs. However, his knock was in vain, as Sri Lanka clinched a last-ball victory to knock Pakistan out of the tournament.

Charith Asalanka (Sri Lanka)

Charith Asalanka further reinforced his superior talent during a successful personal campaign in the Asia Cup 2023. The southpaw amassed 179 runs, averaging 44.75 and striking at 74.27 in six innings. While his highest score of 62 came against Bangladesh in Sri Lanka’s first match, his best knock probably came against Pakistan in a must-win clash.

Charith Asalanka is a fine batter.

Asalanka showed tremendous composure during his unbeaten 49-run knock to seal the deal for the island nation. He held his nerves to score six runs off the last two deliveries to take Sri Lanka to the final. Asalanka showed his versatility throughout this tournament and proved that he is here to stay for a long time.

Hardik Pandya (India)

While KL Rahul was also a bright option to add to the XI, Hardik Pandya gets the nod due to his all-round expertise. In two innings, Pandya made 92 runs, including a vital 87 against Pakistan under immense pressure. He also picked up 6 wickets in four outings in the tournament.

His 87 came at a stage when India were reeling at 66/4, with the famed pace trio breathing fire in helpful conditions. He steadied the ship with Ishan Kishan to take his team to a respectable 266 before the rain washed away the game. His best bowling figures came against Sri Lanka in the final, where he got three wickets for as many runs to break Sri Lanka’s innings entirely after Mohammed Siraj’s magnificent spell.

Dunith Wellalage (Sri Lanka)

Dunith Wellalage displayed his true potential in the Asia Cup, starring with bat and ball in different parts. Wellalage made 86 runs at an average of 28.66 and a strike rate of 78.18 with the bat. He also took 10 wickets at 24.55 runs apiece to end as the joint second-leading wicket-taker of the tournament.

His best performance with both bat and ball came against India, where Wellalage was the sole performer for Sri Lanka. He first took five wickets to restrict India to 213 and later top-scored with 42 runs to bring his team closer to victory. However, Wellalage’s all-round show wasn’t enough to hand India a defeat, and Sri Lanka’s run of 13 consecutive wins also ended with this defeat.

Kuldeep Yadav (India)

Kuldeep Yadav was through a terrific patch before the tournament and continued his work in the championship. Kuldeep snared 9 wickets at a sumptuous average of 11.44 and a strike rate of 19 with the ball. His best performance came against Pakistan, where he dismissed as many as five batters and leaked only 25 runs in his eight overs.

Kuldeep took the wickets of big guns like Fakhar Zaman and Iftikhar Ahmed as the Pakistani batter looked clueless. The 28-year-old also completed a four-fer against Sri Lanka to help India defend a modest total and reach the final. Kuldeep Yadav won the Man of the Tournament award in the Asia Cup 2023 for his fantastic bowling spells.

Also Read: Which team has the best batting line-up for the 2023 World Cup?

Haris Rauf (Pakistan)

While Haris Rauf couldn’t play the final game against Sri Lanka, he still makes his way to this XI - thanks to his performances earlier in the tournament. The pacer took 9 wickets at an average of 13.33 and a strike rate of 16.67 in four innings. Haris bowled with a high pace and was also accurate at the same time.

His finest show came against Bangladesh, where he dismantled four batters while giving only 19 runs in a humid Lahore afternoon. He dismissed the likes of Towhid Hridoy and Mushfiqur Rahim, and Rauf was too hot to handle for Bangladesh. Had injury not kept him out of action, Haris Rauf might have made a significant difference in Pakistan’s last match against Sri Lanka.

Mohammed Siraj (India)

Mohammed Siraj and his marvellous new-ball spell against Sri Lanka in the big final made it to the record books. While Siraj bowled exceptionally well in every game, he reserved his best for the massive occasion. He took 6 wickets for 21 runs and paved the way for his team’s resounding victory.

Mohammed Siraj is a fine bowler

Siraj picked up 10 wickets at an average of 12.20 and a strike rate of 15.80 in four innings overall. He was the joint second-leading wicket-taker and bowled the best spell of the year in Colombo. He broke several records during his Man of the Match winning show to cap off the tournament.

Matheesha Pathirana (Sri Lanka)

Matheesha Pathirana was the brightest positive for Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup 2023. He was the leading wicket-taker of the tournament and bowled exceptionally well. Pathirana snared 11 wickets at an average of 24.54 and a strike rate of 22.27. His best figures came against Bangladesh in what was his team’s maiden game of the tourney.

Pathirana took four wickets while giving away 32 runs and scalped the big fishes like Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim to derail Bangladesh’s innings. He also won his first Man of the Match award for this beautiful bowling performance in international cricket. Pathirana’s exceptional showing came when Sri Lanka missed their regular players due to injuries in this Asia Cup.

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