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Which are the underdog teams of Asia Cup 2022?

The 6th team which will be decided after the Asia Cup 2022 qualifiers, will join India and Pakistan in Group A

Posted Date: Aug 22, 2022

Posted By: Bren Gray

Which are the underdog teams of Asia Cup 2022?
Which are the underdog teams of Asia Cup 2022?

In one week’s time, the Asia Cup 2022 will have its first ball bowled, as Sri Lanka and Afghanistan face off on the 27th of August.

This begins a frantic schedule, where 13 games will play out over the space of a fortnight, to decide the winner of the Asia Cup 2022. Sitting as the No.1 and No.3 T20 sides in the world at the moment, India and Pakistan are head and shoulders above the rest of their competition to win the tournament. However, T20 cricket is always susceptible to an upset—the question is, where will it come from?

We look at three underdog teams in the Asia Cup 2022, and analyse their chances of causing an upset at some stage over the next few weeks.

Afghanistan Look to Get the Better of Big Brothers

For many neutral cricket fans around the world, Afghanistan is their second favourite team.

Why? Purely because of their perennial underdog status. Not only do they have some fairly significant structural challenges going against them at home, but they also are very fresh on the international cricket scene. It’s only been within the last couple of years that we’ve seen Afghanistan regularly playing T20Is and ODIs, or even had their first Test match against a tier one team.

However, Afghanistan will embrace this underdog status, and fancy themselves a chance against one of their big brothers in the Asia Cup 2022.

Drawn in a tough pool alongside two top 10 nations, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, Afghanistan will certainly have their backs against the wall. However, this pool represents their best possible chance of punching above their weight and pulling off an upset. Likely their sights will be set on the second pool game against Bangladesh, who they managed to pull off an eight wicket win over in March of this year. Do this, and avoid a heavy defeat in their opener, and there’s every chance Afghanistan could move through to the next phase of the series.

The Afghans will need to overcome a recent tough series loss to Ireland however, where they lost in a rain affected fifth game. If they’re able to play their signature style of free-flowing, underdog cricket, there’s a good chance Afghanistan pull off an upset and qualify for the Super Four.

Sri Lanka an Underdog Title Contender

While India and Pakistan are the clear title contenders in the Asia Cup 2022, Sri Lanka are an underdog shot at the title as well.

Their ICC T20I Ranking doesn’t inspire much confidence, with the Sri Lankans currently No.8 in the world. However, this still puts them as the third highest ranked team in the tournament, and doesn’t reflect their form over the past few months in other formats of international cricket.

Looking outside of purely T20 cricket, and Sri Lanka have been punching above their weight on the global scene. Their last three series results have been a drawn Test series against Pakistan, a draw Test series against Australia, and a won ODI series against Australia. For a team placed No.7 or No.8 in the world across these formats, these are spectacular results, and show that despite Sri Lanka’s underdog status, they can still surprise some of the bigger names in cricket.

Trouble is, Sri Lanka have only won two of the 11 T20Is they’ve played this year. This is the reason why they aren’t heading into this tournament with more expectation—it’s been awhile between wins in this format. However, the Sri Lankans will be hoping recent momentum in other formats spills over into the T20 space, and they are able to achieve some better results over the next few weeks.

Technically still playing the role of host nation for this tournament, there’s every chance that Sri Lanka will be able to top their pool, with matches against Afghanistan and Bangladesh in the group stages. Manage to do this, then all it requires is a couple of strong performances at the Super Four phase, before the Sri Lankan team gets to the final. Make a final in T20I cricket, and you’re always in with a chance.

Expect underdogs Sri Lanka to be a real handful for favourites India and Pakistan.

Can the Qualifier Ruin Someone’s Party?

Last but not least, the true underdog of the Asia Cup 2022 is yet to be decided.

Over the coming days, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuwait and the UAE are playing their own brief qualifying tournament, to determine who will join the five confirmed members of the Asia Cup 2022. With global rankings of 23rd, 26th, 27th and 12th respectively, there’s no denying that whoever manages to qualify will be considered a significant underdog—especially since they then get placed in a pool alongside the tournament’s two strongest teams, Pakistan and India.

Based on their current T20I rankings, it looks like UAE will be the team headed to the Asia Cup 2022 next week. Facing India in their first game, they will be overwhelming underdogs. However, inherent in the nature of qualifying for the tournament, they will enter with a degree of momentum, having scored a few good wins over their competition in the qualifying process. Up against the tournament favourites, India, there will be absolutely zero expectation of them winning—that’s how big the gap is between these two sides.

In front of a home crowd, with a few recent wins under their belt, and zero expectation, UAE will be able to play with complete freedom and confidence in their game… Sounds like the perfect situation for an underdog upset to thrive.

With world class players like Rohan Mustafa in their side, UAE have an outside chance of pulling off an upset. As the No.5 ranked T20I all-rounder in the world, Mustafa has 218 runs and 11 wickets this year. Those numbers will surely grow over the coming days in the qualifying tournament, and this could be the breakthrough moment where Mustafa solidifies himself among the games best, by pulling a career-best performance out of the bag to drive his side to victory.

Could the Asia Cup 2022 qualifier win the tournament? Unlikely.

Is there a chance that this underdog could pull off and upset and spoil someone’s party? There’s a chance.