One player to watch from each Asia Cup 2023 team

Pakistan and Sri Lanka are set to host the Asia Cup 2023, which will bring together the best cricket teams in Asia. Taking place from August 30 to September 17, the event will feature the most skilled cricket players from the continent as they strive to lead their teams to victory. Alongside the well-known players, there are several rising stars who have the potential to capture the attention and shine on the big stage.

As the Asia Cup 2023 draws nearer, we will now focus our attention on a single emerging talent from each participating team in the tournament.

Shubman Gill (India)

Photo by Icon sport

International ODI Stats 

  • Matches: 27
  • Innings: 27
  • Not Out: 4
  • Runs: 1437
  • Best: 208
  • Average: 62.47
  • Strike Rate: 104.05
  • 50s: 6
  • 100s: 6

Hailing from Punjab, Shubman Gill is a proficient right-hand top-order batsman renowned for his ability to score significant runs at incredible strike rates. The former India U-19 captain made his debut for the senior team in 2019 and quickly established himself as one of the best young cricketers in the world.

In January 2023, Shubman Gill became the youngest batsman in ODI cricket history to score a double century as his 208-run knock helped India overcome New Zealand at Hyderabad. Making waves in 2023, Gill's exceptional batting display yielded a remarkable tally of 750 runs in twelve matches, reflecting an impressive average of 68.18.

Gill's remarkable journey extended to IPL 2023, where he claimed the orange cap with an astonishing score of 890 runs – the second-highest achievement in a single IPL season. With his formidable batting prowess, all eyes are on Gill as he gears up for the Asia Cup, igniting excitement for his potential impact in the tournament.

Naseem Shah (Pakistan)

International ODI Stats 

  • Matches: 8
  • Wickets: 23
  • Average: 15.04
  • Economy Rate: 4.73
  • 4 Wickets: 0
  • 5 Wiclets: 2
  • Best: 5/33

Possessing a natural and fluid bowling motion that effortlessly generated incredible speed, Naseem Shah promptly caught the eye in the highly competitive arena of Pakistani fast bowling. Only a year after his first-class debut, he earned his first cap for Pakistan at Brisbane.

His remarkable talent shone so brightly that it was merely a question of when his potential would fully blossom. In only his second match, he etched his name as the youngest fast bowler in Test history to secure a five-wicket haul, achieving this feat against Sri Lanka in Karachi. Naseem's journey of breaking records persisted, as he accomplished another milestone by becoming the youngest to achieve a Test match hat-trick during his third Test against Bangladesh.

Until as recently as August 2022, the world of white-ball internationals remained an unfamiliar territory for the right-arm pacer. When Shaheen Afridi was unavailable, however, he stepped in and thrived. During his first T20I match, he not only dismissed KL Rahul but also engaged in an intense battle with Virat Kohli, a performance that would have surely gained Shaheen's admiration. As the Asia Cup approaches, Naseem Shah is poised to become one of Pakistan's most potent assets, undoubtedly a major weapon in their arsenal.

Maheesh Theekshana (Sri Lanka)

International ODI Stats 

  • Matches: 22
  • Wickets: 36
  • Average: 22.19
  • Economy Rate: 4.34
  • 4 Wickets: 4
  • 5 Wiclets: 0
  • Best: 4/25

Maheesh Theekshana is one of the most talented spinners to have emerged in Sri Lankan cricket recently. Mentored by none other than Ajanta Mendis, who led Sri Lanka to the ICC World T20 title in 2014, Theekshana has caught the eye of cricket fans with his unorthodox bowling style and impactful performances in limited-over cricket. 

The 23-year-old will play in his second Asia Cup campaign a few weeks later. He was instrumental in Sri Lanka’s successful run at the previous edition of the tournament. While he did not manage to keep the economy rate in check, Theekshana bagged six wickets for The Lions, solidifying his status as one of skipper Dasun Shanaka's preferred choices for breakthroughs.

Theekshana enters the scene with an impressive World Cup Qualifier performance, which secured Sri Lanka's spot in the upcoming showpiece event set to be held in India this October. He claimed 21 wickets from eight appearances in the qualifiers, including two four-wicket hauls. As Sri Lanka aims to defend their Asia Cup title, Theekshana's role as a spinner will be pivotal in their aspirations.

Towhid Hridoy (Bangladesh)

International ODI Stats 

  • Matches: 9
  • Innings: 8
  • Not Out: 1
  • Runs: 338
  • Best: 92
  • Average: 48.28
  • Strike Rate: 97.68
  • 50s: 3
  • 100s: 0

Towhid Hridoy, a U-19 World Cup champion, didn't shine as a star performer for the young Tigers, finishing the tournament with an average below 30. Hridoy, however, has overcome his past challenges and transformed into a dependable figure within the Bangladeshi batting lineup in 2023.

After making his ODI debut for Bangladesh in February this year, Hridoy has amassed 338 runs across eight innings, maintaining an impressive average of 48.28, coupled with an even more remarkable strike rate of 97.68. 

Despite a near miss, the young talent could have etched his name as the first-ever Bangladeshi batsman to achieve a century in his ODI debut; falling short by a mere eight runs. His innings of 92 from 85 deliveries against Ireland, nevertheless, stands as the highest individual score by a Bangladeshi batsman in their debut ODI match.

Having enjoyed successful Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) and Lanka Premier League (LPL) stints this year, Hridoy will be brimming with confidence going into his first Asia Cup. 

Rahmanullah Gurbaz (Afghanistan)

One player to watch from each Asia Cup 2023 team
Photo by Icon sport

International ODI Stats 

  • Matches: 21
  • Innings: 21
  • Not Out: 1
  • Runs: 779
  • Best: 145
  • Average: 38.95
  • Strike Rate: 86.95
  • 50s: 2
  • 100s: 4

Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan often get the spotlight, when it comes to Afghanistan cricket. Rahamanullah Gurbaz, however, has quietly emerged as one of the most consistent performers for the Afghan side in recent times. 

Gurbaz hit the ground running in ODI cricket as he smashed a century in his debut match against Ireland in 2021. The wicketkeeper-batsman soon started to attract interest from top T20 franchises worldwide for his exceptional power-hitting capabilities. The 21-year-old had an excellent series against Bangladesh lately and will hope to ride that momentum into the Asia Cup. 

Aasif Sheikh (Nepal)

International ODI Stats 

  • Matches: 42
  • Innings: 42
  • Not Out: 3
  • Runs: 1218
  • Best: 110
  • Average: 31.20
  • Strike Rate: 78.10
  • 50s: 9
  • 100s: 1

Aasif Sheikh garnered widespread praise for his display of sportsmanship when he chose not to dismiss Andy McBrine, who had been accidentally toppled over by bowler Kamal Airee while attempting a run. Sheikh has proven himself to be a pivotal figure within the Nepal cricket team, contributing significantly both in front and behind the stumps. 

Sheikh has scored 532 runs across eighteen innings since the turn of the year. He picked up his maiden ODI century against Papua New Guinea earlier this year. The 21-year-old was not at his best during the ACC Premier Cup 2023, but he will hope to bounce back to top form once the Asia Cup starts.

Final words

The Asia Cup 2023 promises to be a showcase of extraordinary talent, with these rising stars all prepared to prove themselves at one of the most prestigious competitions in international cricket. As the battles on the field unfold from August 30 to September 17, be sure to stay connected with us at CricNerds for in-depth coverage and analysis, bringing you closer to the action like never before.

Jish BJish B

Born to a cricket-crazy father and a writer mother, Jish combined his parents' passions to fuel his own dreams of being a sports journalist. If it's got a scoring system and needs to be written about, chances are this guy has written about it.