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Asia Cup 2014 preview - Five sides for this year's Asia Cup series

Defending champions Pakistan prepare for the Asia Cup 2014. (credit: Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images)
The 12th edition of the Asia Cup will be played from February 25 onward with five teams participating in the tournament this year. 

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Defending champions Pakistan will be joined by hosts Bangladesh, five-time winners India, four-time champions Sri Lanka and the first timers Afghanistan in this edition of the Asia Cup. 

Each of these five teams will play each other once in a round-robin format with the top two sides going through to the final. The league games will be played between February 25 and March 6 while the final will be hosted on March 8.

The first five ODIs in the tournament will be played at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium in Fatullah while the remaining six games including the final will be held at the Shere Bangla Stadium in Dhaka. 

This is the second successive time that Bangladesh is hosting the Asia Cup and fourth overall, with India and Pakistan having played hosts only once respectively. Sri Lanka have been the hosts on four occasions too. 

India will be led by MS Dhoni and will be relieved to be playing in the sub-continent, having struggled in their performances away from home. They went down 2-0 in South Africa and lost 4-0 in New Zealand, a record that the captain would love to set straight. 

On the other hand, Pakistan have had a couple of excellent ODI results going for them, as they defeated Sri Lanka 3-2 in the UAE after they had put it across South Africa 2-1 away from home. In fact they have won six out of the last seven bilateral series and will start as one of the favourites to make it to the final.

Sri Lanka are currently in Bangladesh for a three-match ODI series and while they did win the first game of that series, they were run close by Bangladesh. Earlier they lost 3-2 to Pakistan, drew 1-1 against New Zealand and beat South Africa 4-1 at home. 

Bangladesh, who ran Pakistan close in the final of the tournament last year, are coming off a 3-0 series win over New Zealand, having earlier drawn a series against Sri Lanka and also beaten West Indies at home. They will be tough competition to the opposition and could act as party-pooper, much like they had in the previous edition of the Asia Cup by beating Sri Lanka and India in the league games. 

Afghanistan are going to play in their first ever Asia Cup. They were recently involved in the ICC WCL Championship in which they played 14 limited-overs matches - some ODIs and some List A games - and won nine out of them. 

The league matches will be played between February 25 and March 6 while the final will be held on February 8.
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Asia Cup 2014 preview - Five sides for this year's Asia Cup series

The 12th edition of the Asia Cup will be played from February 25 onward with five teams participating in the tournament this year. 

Read more »