Asia Cup, very special to Sri Lanka
By S. R. Pathiravithana
At present Asia – the most populace segment in the world, which also carries the biggest number of cricket fans, are gripped with the eighth Asia Cup Cricket Tournament, which is being held in Sri Lanka.

Pitted against each other in tournament are their demigods in names of Sachin Tendulkar, Muttiah Muralitheran, Sohaib Aktar, Rahul Dravid, Inzamam Ul Haq, Sanath Jayasuriya etc to name a few… And last Sunday’s game between Sri Lanka and India was a bloc-buster indeed.

The tournament, which started on July 16, will go on till August 1st with Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh (full members of the International Cricket Conference) along with The United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong (Associated members of the ICC) taking part.

The Asian Cricket Council, which runs the Asia Cup was formed in 1983 as the Asia Cricket Conference to promote and develop the game within Asia. Full members of this conference were India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka (who had been drawn as a full member of the ICC only in 1982) along with Bangladesh, Malaysia and Singapore.

The headquarters of the ACC is situated at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Besides the Asia Cup, the ACC also runs the following tournaments—Asian Test Championship, The ACC Trophy and Asian Junior Cricket Tournaments.

Now the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong and Nepal also have become full members of the ACC while Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bhutan, Brunei, Iran, Kuwait, Maldives, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Thailand have joined in as associated members.

The first Asia Cup was held in Sharjah, UAE in 1984 with only India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka taking part. And the final was between India and Pakistan in which India were the ultimate victors.

The second Asia Cup was held in Sri Lanka in 1986. This was the first time that Sri Lanka hosted a multi-national cricket tournament in the island. This year, the holders India pulled out of the tournament and in the final Sri Lanka beat Pakistan. In the third Championship, which was held in Bangladesh, India beat Sri Lanka in the final to regain the Trophy in spite of a heroic inning by Sri Lanka batsman Roshan Mahanama.

In 1990/91 the fourth edition of the Championship was held in India. This year Pakistan stayed away from the tournament and India retained the trophy by beating Sri Lanka in the final.

In 1995, the fifth Championship was taken back to its original location Sharjah. This year India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan ended the preliminary round with equal number of points, but, Sri Lanka and India were through with a better run rate. India won this championship too to make it three in a row and the fourth time in five championships.

In 1997 India and Sri Lanka met in final for the fourth consecutive occasion, but this time it was Sri Lanka who took the trophy after having won the World cup in 1996.

In the seventh championship, which was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Pakistan won the Trophy for the first Time beating Sri Lanka in the final. Sri Lanka’s unique record in this tournament is that it has been in all Asia Cup finals since the first tournament in 1984, which featured India and Pakistan. Sri Lanka won it twice in 1986 and 1997.

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