Asia Cup 2018: India's continental dominance will face a tough test

Asia Cup 2018: India

India would be eager to keep alive its domination in the Asian Cup of cricket, the continental battle for supremacy, but it will face a tough test of its eternal rivals, Pakistan. The first Asian Cup was held in 1984 in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, with India becoming the inaugural winners. Since then, two teams have dominated the continental tournament: India and Sri Lanka. While India has lifted the trophy six times (5 times in ODI format and once in T20 format), Sri Lanka has won it five times. Pakistan has disappointed a bit in the tournament, having won only twice. In 2015, the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced that the biennial tournament will be played in ODI and T20I formats on a rotating basis.

The first Asian Cup in T20I format was held in 2016 with India beating host Bangladesh in the final in Dhaka to clinch the title.

India will once again head to the 2018 Asian Cup as the favorites, but this time in Pakistan it could be a handful. Sarfraz Ahmed's team, led by Pakistan, annoyed India in the final of the ICC Champions Trophy Trophy 2017 and has produced some solid performances since then.

India will also not have the machinist and captain Virat Kohli and that will be a great advantage for other teams.

The rival teams will also see the fact that India has not had such good results in the Asian Cup in the recent past. India could have won the 2016 Asian Cup, but that was their first title win in the continental tournament since 2010.

After winning the opening of the Asian Cup in 1984, it was Sri Lanka who lifted the trophy two years later at home with India without participating due to a political situation in the island country.

However, India regained the trophy in 1988 with Bangladesh as hosts. The Indian team then went on to win the next two editions as well (1990-91 and 1994-95) to turn it into a hat-trick of titles, four in total.

However, after the triumph in 1994-95, India saw a decline in fortune. The Indian cricket team returned empty-handed in the next four editions with Sri Lanka winning three titles in that span and Pakistan winning one.

India, led by MS Dhoni, finally ended its drought in 2010, beating hosts Sri Lanka for 81 races in the final in Dambulla.

Pakistan won the 2011-12 trophy with Sri Lanka taking home the title in 2013-14.

In 2016, the tournament was held in the T20I format, which serves as a warm-up for the World Twenty20. The tournament was held in Bangladesh and India was undefeated in the tournament and got the best of the hosts in the final.

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