The Asia Cup 2023 concluded with India becoming the champions with an emphatic win over Sri Lanka in the final which was played on Sunday at the R Premadasa Stadium, in Colombo.
The final proved to be a one-sided affair as Mohammed Siraj’s 6/21 and Hardik Pandya’s 3/3 completely decimated Sri Lanka for a paltry 50 runs in 15.2 overs. Shubman Gill and Ishan Kishan then achieved the paltry target in 6.1 overs, as India won the final by 10 wickets and became the Asian champions for a record eighth time.
The Asia Cup 2023 saw many players continuing their good form from previous matches. On the other hand, some players got their form back and made consistent runs or picked wickets in most encounters. Some contributed with both the bat and the ball and in the field as well.
As the tournament concluded on a high, let’s have a look at the high points for the players in the Asia Cup 2023 as well and check out the 11 best performers who made their team proud.
Here is the Best XI of the Asia Cup 2023 tournament:
1. Rohit Sharma (C)
Rohit Sharma. (Photo Source: Pankaj Nangia/Getty Images)
Indian captain Rohit Sharma was at his best with both the bat and in captaincy as well. He won his second Asia Cup title in the ODI format and it was a huge comeback from the Indian team, which had missed out last edition. India defeated Sri Lanka in the final by 10 wickets in a dominating fashion.
With the bat, Rohit Sharma made 194 runs in 5 innings with three half-centuries to his name. His highest score was 74* and he hit 21 fours and 11 sixes in the tournament. As for his captaincy, Rohit didn’t let the pressure off in crunch matches, especially against Pakistan in the Super 4s and then against Sri Lanka in the final.
2. Shubman Gill
Shubman Gill. (Photo Source: Ishara S.KODIKARA / AFP) (Photo by ISHARA S.KODIKARA/AFP via Getty Images)
Shubman Gill deserved to get the Player of the Series award as he finished with 302 runs in six matches with one century and 2 half-centuries to his name. He averaged 75.50 and had a strike rate of 93.49. Despite failing against Pakistan in the first Group A encounter, the Punjab batter bounced when the two sides met again.
He hammered Shaheen Afridi right from the start and hit a quick fifty. But his best knock came in a losing cause against Bangladesh, as he single-handedly marshalled the Indian batting on a difficult pitch after Rohit Sharma challenged his side to chase under the lights. Gill’s century was a sublime one and if not for a poorly-timed shot, he could’ve taken India to victory.
3. Kusal Mendis (wk)
Kusal Mendis (Photo Source: Twitter)
Sri Lanka should feel proud of Kusal Mendis as the batter-keeper shined brightly in the whole Asia Cup tournament. In 6 games, Mendis scored 270 runs with three half-centuries to his name with the highest score of 92 and he averaged 45. He made his runs aggressively and was proficient against both pace and spin.
His best knock in the Asia Cup tournament came against Pakistan in a must-win Super 4s encounter. Chasing 253 to win the match and qualify for the final, Kusal Mendis anchored the Sri Lankan innings with a sublime 91 in 87 balls with 8 fours and a six, respectively. He took the team closer to the target while Charith Asalanka finished the match.
4. Sadeera Samarawickrama
Sadeera Samarawickrama Batting. (Photo Source : Gettyimages/ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP)
Sadeera Samarawickrama was in prime form for Sri Lanka during the Asia Cup 2023 tournament. In 6 matches, he made 215 runs with 2 fifties at an average of 35.83 and a highest score of 93 runs. The right-hander was perfect as a partner to the likes of Kusal Mendis and Charith Asalanka in the middle order.
Put into bat first by Bangladesh in a crucial Super 4s match in Colombo, Sri Lanka had gotten off to a decent start. However, Bangladesh kept picking wickets at the right moments to not let the opposition form a big partnership. Here is where Samarawickrama shined as he anchored one end and let others play their natural game. Samarawickrama deserved a century but got out on the final ball of the innings for 93 in 72 balls with 8 fours and 2 sixes.
5. Mohammad Rizwan
Mohammad Rizwan (Photo Source: Twitter)
Mohammad Rizwan continued to impress with the bat in the Asia Cup where he made 195 runs in 5 matches at an average of 97.50 and strike-rate of 94.20. He hit 2 half-centuries and his highest score was 86*. He had started well against Nepal in Multan, scoring 44 runs.
But he reserved his best until the time Pakistan needed him the most. That came in the must-win Super 4s game against Sri Lanka in Colombo. Pakistan after deciding to bat first found themselves in a bit of trouble and that’s when Mohammad Rizwan with Abdullah Shafique stabilized the innings and then propelled the side to 252/7 with 86* with 6 fours and 2 sixes to his name.
6. Hardik Pandya
Hardik Pandya. (Photo Source: Surjeet Yadav/Getty Images)
Hardik Pandya continued to impress with both the bat and the ball as in the Asia Cup 2023, he made 92 runs in 2 innings and picked 6 wickets in all. His only innings of note came against Pakistan in Kandy when India was staring at embarrassment at 66/4. But he took charge of the situation with a well-crafted 87 and along with Ishan Kishan’s 82, added 138 runs for 5th wicket, taking India to 266.
With the ball, he was economical and swung the ball around when he got assistance. His best bowling was 3/3 which came in the final of the tournament against Sri Lanka. After Mohammed Siraj had destroyed the top order of Sri Lanka with 6/21, Pandya wrapped up the tail quickly taking the final three wickets in 14 balls.
7. Shakib Al Hasan
Shakib Al Hasan (Photo Source: Twitter)
Bangladesh might not have made it into the final of the Asia Cup 2023, but Shakib Al Hasan was their best with both the bat and the ball. He made 173 runs in 5 matches with two half-centuries and the best score of 80. With the ball, Shakib picked 3 wickets in all, with the best of 2/29, but he was miserly with an economy of 4.39.
His best performance was undoubtedly against India in the inconsequential Super 4s match in Colombo. Bangladesh was put into bat by India and despite losing three wickets for 28 runs, Shakib Al Hasan led from the front with 80 in 85 balls and with Towhid Hridoy scoring 54, took Bangladesh to 265/8.
With the ball, he picked the wicket of dangerous Suryakumar Yadav and captained well putting pressure on Indian batting. He didn’t panic when Shubman Gill was hammering the bowlers. When Axar Patel threatened to win the game for India from an impossible situation, Shakib was a perfect example of having nerves of steel as a captain.
8. Dunith Wellalage
Dunith Wellalage. (Photo Source: Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images)
Dunith Wellalage stepped up to the plate when Sri Lanka was missing some key bowlers and helped Maheesh Theekshana take Sri Lanka into the finals of the Asia Cup 2023. The left-arm spinner was impressed with his bowling and surprised with his ability to bat as well. Wellalage picked 10 wickets in 5 matches with a best of 5/40 and scored 86 important runs with a best of 42*.
Wellalage’s big moment to shine came against India in Colombo. India opted to bat first and despite Rohit Sharma making 53, Wellalage sprung into action and removed the big three in Rohit, Shubman Gill, and Virat Kohli in no time. Then after a short partnership, the 20-year-old accounted for a well set KL Rahul and dismissed dangerous Hardik Pandya for 3 runs to complete his maiden ODI fifer as India posted 213.
Chasing the small target, Sri Lanka found themselves in trouble at 99/6. Then Dhananjaya de Silva got support from Wellalage with the bat and they took their team closer to the goal. Wellalage remained unbeaten on 42 with 3 fours and 1 six, though Sri Lanka lost the game by 41 runs.
9. Kuldeep Yadav
Kuldeep yadav. (Photo Source: RANDY BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images)
Kuldeep Yadav picked 9 wickets for India in the Asia Cup 2023 at an economy of just 3.61 which included a fifer as well. He was rightly adjudged the Player of the Series as his impact on India in the middle overs was brilliant. The left-arm wrist spinner not only stopped the runs but picked wickets as well.
Kuldeep’s best bowling figures of 5/25 came against Pakistan. Chasing 357 runs to win in Colombo, Pakistan never looked in the chase and their embarrassment was completely ended when Kuldeep Yadav ran through their batting with wickets of Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Rizwan, Iftikhar Ahmed, and Shadab Khan. He continued to good form taking 4/43 against Sri Lanka as India successfully defended 213 runs.
10. Mohammed Siraj
Mohammed Siraj. (Photo Source: FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP via Getty Images)
Player of the Match in the Asia Cup 2023 final, Mohammed Siraj had a dream tournament, picking up 10 wickets at an economy of 4.63 and a best of 6/21. His accuracy and ability to swing the ball at the start helped India to control the flow of runs in powerplay overs. And more often than not, he provided Rohit Sharma with an early wicket or two.
His 6/21 will go down as perhaps the best bowling performance in Asia Cup history as it embarrassed Sri Lanka, who were bowled out for 50 runs. He even took four wickets in an over, becoming the first Indian bowler to do so. Siraj’s good form will bode well for India going into the World Cup 2023.
11. Matheesha Pathirana
Matheesha Pathirana. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Sri Lanka was missing multiple first-choice fast bowlers for the Asia Cup 2023 tournament including Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara. This meant that Kasun Rajitha had only Matheesha Pathirana for company and the 20-year-old stepped up in grand style as he ended up as the highest wicket-taker in the tournament.
Pathirana picked 11 wickets with an economy of 6.61 a best bowling of 4/32 and a couple of 3-fers as well. His best bowling came against Bangladesh in a Group B match in Kandy. His 4 wickets included the likes of Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim as Bangladesh crumbled for 164 runs after electing to bat first.