LAHORE: Sri Lanka will take on Afghanistan in their opening match of the Asia Cup 2022, which rolls into action in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Saturday (today). With the Twenty20 World Cup only a few months away, the tournament will serve as dress rehearsal for Asia’s top cricketing nations. The Asia Cup was moved out of Sri Lanka in late July, owing to the political and economic crisis in the island nation. The Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) board had admitted to logistical difficulties in hosting multiple nations. Billed as one of the biggest tournaments in international cricket, the history of the Asia Cup traces back to 1984 when India, under skipper Sunil Gavaskar, won the inaugural edition held in the UAE. The series was played in a round-robin format with Pakistan and Sri Lanka taking part as well. The Asia Cup has since had 14 editions — the last of them being in 2018 in UAE where India defeated Bangladesh by three wickets in the final, successfully defending their title. India are the most successful side in the tournament’s history with seven titles (1984, 1988, 1990-91, 1995, 2010, 2016, 2018) to their name. Sri Lanka are second on the list with five titles, followed by Pakistan who have won the title twice. Sri Lanka are also the only team to feature in all 14 editions. Bangladesh have hosted the Asia Cup most number of times (five). UAE will play hosts for the fourth time with the 2022 edition. India have only hosted the tournament once in 1990-91 when they clinched their third title after beating Sri Lanka in the final in Kolkata. Return of the T20 format at 2022 edition: The Asia Cup 2022 will be played in the T20 format. This is the second time the tournament will be played in the shortest format. It was last held in the T20 format in Bangladesh in 2016, where India defeated the hosts by eight wickets in the final. The 2022 edition will be played in a double round-robin format followed by the final. Six teams are featuring in the tournament. Hong Kong, who defeated the UAE in the final qualifier on Wednesday, have joined India and Pakistan in Group A. Group B comprises Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Following their Asia Cup opener on August 28 (tomorrow), India and Pakistan will have another meeting in the Super-4 stage, provided there are no upsets from the qualifier in Group A. The top two teams from both groups will face off in the second round-robin stage. An India-Pakistan final is also on the cards if the teams manage to top the Super 4s. The Asia Cup will be played under gruelling conditions in the UAE, where the temperatures are likely to hover in the mid-40 degrees Celsius range. Humidity will also be a key factor during the matches, which are set to begin at 7:00PM PST (6:00PM UAE time). Clash of the Titans: India will be looking to avenge their 10-wicket humiliation by Pakistan at the same venue in last year’s T20 World Cup on Sunday (tomorrow), and skipper Rohit Sharma is trying to keep his players level-headed as the expectation and excitement among fans hits fever pitch. Virat Kohli has the chance to find form before the World Cup. The match will be Kohli’s 100th T20 international and a chance for the batting great to emerge from his prolonged slump before the World Cup. The 33-year-old has not scored a century in any format since 2019 but should be refreshed after being rested for tours of the West Indies and Zimbabwe. Skipper Babar Azam will look to keep Pakistan’s psychological edge when the traditional rivals clash in their opener. Pakistan have brought in pace bowler Mohammad Hasnain in place of Shaheen Shah Afridi, India’s T20 destroyer last year, who has been forced out by a knee injury. Form guide of participating teams: Pakistan: After a superb campaign which led them to the semifinal of the T20 World Cup last year, Pakistan have played little cricket in the format. Babar’s side completed series sweeps against Bangladesh and West Indies in late 2021. However, they suffered defeat against Australia in their only T20I appearance this year ahead of the much-anticipated clash with India on August 28. India: Since their group stage exit from the T20 World Cup held in UAE, India have won 19 of their 24 T20I matches. Sixteen of these wins have come in 2022 –the most for them in any year since 2006. Rohit Sharma’s men head into the Asia Cup with a 4-1 T20 series win in West Indies. Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka’s average tournament in the T20 World Cup was followed by a series of poor results in the format. Dasun Shanaka’s men have only won two of the 11 matches since, and one in their six T20Is this year. Bangladesh: A debacle in the 2021 T20 World Cup and a slew of leadership changes have not helped Bangladesh revive their T20 game. The Asia Cup will see Shakib Al Hasan returning as captain while their head coach Russell Domingo was sacked from his T20 role five days ahead of the tournament. Bangladesh have only two wins in 11 games since the last T20 World Cup. Afghanistan: The dark horses of the tournament, Afghanistan come into the Asia Cup after losing a closely-fought five-match series against Ireland. Mohammad Nabi’s men have won seven of their 10 matches since the T20 World Cup in 2021. Squads: Pakistan: Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Naseem Shah, Shahnawaz Dahani, Usman Qadir and Mohammad Hasnain. India: Rohit Sharma (captain), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Dinesh Karthik (wicket-keeper), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravi Bishnoi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh, Avesh Khan. Standbys: Axar Patel, Deepak Chahar, Shreyas Iyer. Sri Lanka: Dasun Shanaka (captain), Dhanushaka Gunathilaka, Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis, Charith Asalanka, Banuka Rajapaksha, Ashen Bandara, Dhananjaya de Silva, Wanidu Hasaranga, Mahesh Theekshana, Jeffery Vandersay, Praveen Jayawickrema, Binura Fernando, Chamika Karunaratne, Dilshan Madushanka, Matheesha Pathirana, Dinesh Chandimal, Nuwanindu Fernando and Kasun Rajitha. Bangladesh: Shakib Al Hasan (captain), Anamul Haque, Mushfiqur Rahim, Afif Hossain, Mosaddek Hossain, Mahmudullah, Mahedi Hasan, Mohammad Saifuddin, Hasan Mahmud, Mustafizur Rahman, Nasum Ahmed, Sabbir Rahman, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Ebadot Hossain, Parvez Hossain Emon, Taskin Ahmed and Mohammad Naim. Afghanistan: Mohammad Nabi (captain), Najibullah Zadran, Afsar Zazai (WK), Azmatullah Omarzai, Farid Ahmad Malik, Fazal Haq Farooqi, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Hazratullah Zazai, Ibrahim Zadran, Karim Janat, Mujib ur Rahman, Najibullah Zadran, Naveen ul Haq, Noor Ahmad, Rahmanullah Gurbaz (WK), Rashid Khan and Samiullah Shinwari. Reserves: Nijat Masoud, Qais Ahmad and Sharafuddin Ashraf.