Related Link : Afro-Asian Cup 2007
As the second Afro-Asian Cup kicks off in Bangalore, there looks to be a huge gulf between both the squads. The Asian Squad has benefited a lot from the inclusion of players from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Whereas in the African Squad, the onus is on the South African players to put up a fight to save their continent. The South Africans are supported by lesser known players from Zimbabwe and Kenya.
The Asian Squad is studded with superstars even though the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Murali, Vaas and others are giving it a skip. To begin with the Mahela Jayawardene led side has four dashing opening batsmen in Sanath Jayasuriya, Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag and Upul Tharanga. The middle order looks solid as well with Mahela himself along with Mohammad Yousuf, Yuvraj Singh and wicket keeper batsman MS Dhoni. The bowling looks to be in safe hands although Zaheer Khan and Dilhara Fernando can be inconsistent. Pakistan’s version of Glenn McGrath – Mohammad Asif will be the spearhead of the attack. India’s Harbhajan Singh is very much present in the squad and will be eager to prove a point or two to the Indian Selectors who had axed him for both Tests and One Dayers. Same will be the case with Virender Sehwag who will be looking to make most of the these three-ODI Series.
The African Squad is being led by the big hitting Justin Kemp. There are quite a few star players missing from the squad for instance Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and Herschelle Gibbs. Kemp will have to rely on AB de Villiers, Kenyan Captain Steve Tikolo and Mark Boucher to perform at their very best. Kemp does have Shaun Pollock, one of the best bowlers around in the international circuit for the last decade or so but there is speculation that the all rounder may not bother to bowl at all. There is a comeback for South African off spinner Johan Botha’s whose bowling action has been cleared by the ICC recently.
The three-ODIs will be played after two Twenty20 games. The first Twenty20 match is between the Asian Women and the African Women followed by the men’s Twenty20 match. The Asian team is led by Pakistan’s new Skipper Shoaib Malik. The team is filled up with mostly Pakistanis and Bangladeshis. Sreesanth is the only player representing India. The African team which is led by Kenyan Tanmay Mishra on the other hand consists of completely unknown players who have had little or no experience at the highest level. Former Indian all rounder Roger Binny will be the Coach of the Asian Squad while the South African Coach Mickey Arthur will be incharge of the African contingent. The Twenty20 games and the 1st ODI will be played at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. The second and the third ODIs will be at Chennai on the 9th and 10th. The first Afro-Asian Cup was held in South Africa with both sides winning an ODI each and one match abandoned due to rain.
Asia ODI Squad : Sanath Jayasuriya, Virender Sehwag, Upul Tharanga, Sourav Ganguly, Mahela Jayawardene (Captain), Mohammad Yousuf, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Wicket Keeper), Dilhara Fernando, Harbhajan Singh, Mashrafe Mortaza, Mohammad Rafique, Zaheer Khan, Mohammad Asif
Africa ODI squad : Justin Kemp (Captain), Steve Tikolo (Vice-Captain), AB de Villiers, Elton Chigumbura, Boeta Dippenaar, Shaun Pollock, Vusumuzi Sibanda, Albie Morkel, Johan Botha, Mark Boucher (WK), Andrew Hall, Morne Morkel, Thomas Odoyo, Peter Ongondo, Hiren Varaiya
Asian Twenty20 Team : Shoaib Malik (Captain), Tamim Iqbal, Imran Nazir, Mohammad Ashraful, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal, Abdur Razzak, Farveez Maharoof, Mashrafe Mortaza, Sreesanth
African Twenty20 Team : Tanmay Mishra (Captain), Alex Obanda, Neheiah Odhiambo, Maurice Ouma (all from Kenya), Loots Bosman, Thandi Tshabalala, Albie Morkel, Gulam Bodi, Morne Morkel (All from South Africa), Keith Dabengwa, Tawanda Mupariwa and Friday Kasteni (all from Zimbabwe)