From 1984 to 2022 (while the 2023 event is underway), India has proven their worth in the Asia Cup for so many times. It’s particularly attestable through their record of winning the championship seven times out of the sixteen events played out.
The ‘men in blue’ produced so many individual and team records that are written as a golden touch to the record book. Be it batting, bowling, fielding, or captaincy, the Indian players have etched their marks into the stone.
Besides, each final in the last forty years has taken the fans’ excitement and anticipation to new levels. However, there were occasions when India might’ve made it to the finals of the Asia Cup but failed to hold the trophy.
Today, we’ll reminisce about those Asia Cup finals, attempting to cherish the good and bad moments, stats, and records of your favorite players.
Recounting India’s Asia Cup Final Encounters
Since 1984’s inaugural Asia Cup edition, India has dominated the tournament so far. Out of the 16 Asia Cup events, India participated in 14 events and reached the finals a total of 10 times; second to Sri Lanka who’ve made it to the final 12 times out of 15 appearances.
But India leaves Sri Lanka behind by 7 to 6 wins in terms of winning the finals. Want to cherish those 10 finals that India managed to hit? Read on:
Asia Cup Final 1984, Sharjah (1st Event) Vs. Pakistan
The very maiden event of the prestigious Asia Cup, arranged by ACC (Asian Cricket Council) in Sharjah was fully dominated by team India. Only three teams, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka participated in the first Asia Cup.
3 matches were played in total in which India remained unbeaten. They first powerfully beat Sri Lanka for 10 wickets and then beat their arch-rival Pakistan in the final by 54 runs.
In the final, India batted first where opener Surinder Khanna starred with his 56 runs, hitting 3 fours and 2 sixes. The middle-order batsman Sandeep Patel made 43 with 5 fours and 1 six. India managed to get 188 for 4 in 46 overs.
In reply, Pakistan couldn’t settle down in the face of disciplined bowling by India. They kept losing wickets and were eventually all out for 134 in 39.4 overs. Binny and Shastri took 3 wickets each to get India their first Asia Cup trophy.
Wills Asia Cup Final 1988, Dhaka Vs. Sri Lanka
India again emerged as champions for the second time in the Asia Cup event of 1988. Even after Sri Lanka seemed undefeated throughout the tournament (won 3 out of 3), India snatched the victory from them in the final and sealed their second-ever Asia Cup championship.
Sri Lanka batted first and only managed to get all out for 174 in 44 overs. India didn’t need to put in much effort as they reached the humble target in just 37.1 overs. Navjot Singh Sidhu played a masterful 76 runs knock to make India champions of the Asia Cup 1988 for the second time.
Asia Cup Final 1990-91, Kolkata Vs. Sri Lanka
With only 3 teams participating in this event, India hosted the Asia Cup of 1990. Their arch-rival Pakistan withdrew from the event due to the political tension between the two nations.
So, naturally, it wasn’t any tough luck for Sri Lanka and India to meet in the final leaving an amateur Bangladesh out of the tournament.
Sri Lanka was invited to bat first by the Indian skipper Mohammad Azharuddin in a 45-over final. But they didn’t respond well to the call, only managing a meager 204 runs for 9. Ranatunga made 49 while Gurusinha made 39 runs. The legendary Kapil Dev did a fiery spell of 9-0-31-4.
In response, India lost early wickets of Ravi Shastri and Navjot Sidhu, but Sachin Tendulkar and Sanjay Manjrekar handled the situation quite aptly. They both added 91 runs in the 3rd wicket to even the odds.
As Tendulkar got out, skipper Azharuddin came into bat and took the wheel in his hands. He made a blistering 53* off 39, hitting 4 fours and 1 six. Conversely, Manjrekar remained not out with an astonishing 75 off 95 with only a single boundary to his name.
Skipper Azharuddin helped India reach home in 42.1 overs. They became the Asia Cup champion for the 3rd time; this time with a more emphatic celebration at their home ground, Eden Gardens, Kolkata.
Pepsi Asia Cup Final 1995, Sharjah Vs. Sri Lanka
The Asia Cup returned to the deserts again in 1995 as the UAE arranged the 5th Asia Cup. India this time participated with three other Asian nations Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh in a Robin-Round format tournament.
The Robin-Round tournament engages each contender country to play all other three countries head-to-head for once. India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka played well to achieve 4 points each, all of them giving hard competition to reach the final.
But the run rate factor came in the way and Pakistan had to opt out from the tournament. Hence, India again met Sri Lanka in the final. Sri Lanka was surely looking to take revenge for the last Asia Cup final.
However, Srinath, Prasad, Pravakar, and other bowlers and fielders didn’t let Sri Lanka collect more than a moderate 230 runs for 7 in 50 overs as they batted first.
In response, Tendulkar played a fantastic 41-run knock before getting out. Navjot Singh Sidhu appeared again as a savior in the final with his timely 84. But it was Mohammad Azharuddin who played an almost run-a-ball 90* runs knock, helping India get through the target in just 41.5 overs losing only 2 wickets.
Thus, India became the 4th time Asia Cup champion in history.
Pepsi Asia Cup Final 1997, Colombo Vs. Sri Lanka
In 1997, India had to deal with an all-round Champion Sri Lanka (‘96 WC Champion) in the final of the ‘97 Asia Cup in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
In this tournament, India managed to reach the final as the second favorite of the event. Sri Lanka beat every team in this tournament with their superb performance in every department.
So, taking them on in the final was no less than an impossible task for India. However, the men in blue couldn’t alter the expected result though. Sri Lanka effortlessly beat them by 8 wickets chasing down 239 in a span of just 37 overs.
India chose to bat first after winning the toss. They put up a midrange total of 239 in 50 overs with Tendulkar and Azharuddin making 53 and 81 respectively. Sri Lankan bowlers and fielders kept things too tight for Indian batsmen. They could hardly flourish their run rate.
In reply, the Lankan tigers came all over the Indian bowlers. In the opener, the Matara Hurricane, Sanath Jayasuriya lashed Indian bowlers with 63 runs off 52 balls while launching 2 sixes and 7 fours. He and Marvan Atapattu made a delightful opening stand of 137 runs while chasing the total.
With Jayasuriya and De Silva departed, Marvan Atapattu took the baton with skipper Arjuna Ranatunga and sailed Sri Lanka home in 37 overs. Atapattu made 84 runs while Ranatunga scored a fabulous 62.
Sri Lanka became the Asia Cup champion of 1997, halting India’s final dominance for another thirteen years to come.
Asia Cup Final 2004, Colombo Vs. Sri Lanka
After getting out of the Asia Cup tournament in 2000, India again managed to reach yet another final in the event in 2004. This was the 5th time they were facing Sri Lanka as their finalist in an Asia Cup tournament.
However, like their previous encounter back in 1997, Sri Lanka yet again depressed the Indian fans by winning the title. India had to fight their way through to the final with both Sri Lanka and Pakistan in their way.
All the same, their hard work wasn’t good enough to get the championship. Sri Lanka even after making a meager total of 228 in 50 overs, restricted India to just 203 runs for the loss of 9 wickets.
Sachin Tendulkar’s 74 off 100 balls could only do so much for his team as no other top or middle-order batsmen rose to the occasion. Tail-ender Zaheer Khan fought till the end with his 28 runs but it wasn’t good enough.
Asia Cup Final 2008, Karachi Vs. Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka became a merry partner of India in the finals of the Asia Cup events. Yet another Asia Cup final, yet again India meets their old contender, Sri Lanka in 2008.
India started well after winning the toss and sending Sri Lanka to bat first. They uprooted 4 top-order batsmen for just 66 runs as the Lankans were looking in deep trouble.
But one man from the Sri Lankan team was still there. The master blaster opener Sanath Jayasuriya was taking charge of the Indian bowlers from the beginning.
The Indians could get Jayasuriya in the 36th over. By this time, he’s done the damage with a slaughtering 125 (114), hitting 9 fours and 5 massive sixes! Tilakaratne Dilshan also contributed well with a sensible 56-run knock. Sri Lanka ended 273 by losing all 10 wickets in 49.5 overs.
When India came to bat, Sehwag made India look well ahead of the asking run rate with his 60 off just 36 balls. But then started the Ajantha Mendis show. Mendis’ magical bowling spell took India out of the match single-handedly: 8-1-13-6!
Captain Dhoni contributed with 49 runs, but India was all out for just 173, helping Sri Lanka have a massive 100-run victory in the 2008 Asia Cup final.
Asia Cup Final 2010, Dambulla Vs. Sri Lanka
As India was facing Sri Lanka for the 7th time in the final of the Asia Cup, they were up for taking what they deserved. Also, the defeat in the last Asia Cup final was still vivid in their memory.
India batted first and registered 268 for 6 in the stipulated 50 overs. Dinesh Karthik made 66 while Rohit Sharma and M. S. Dhoni added 41 and 38 respectively.
In response, Sri Lanka failed in their top order department. They lost 5 wickets for just 51 runs. Chamara Kapugedara and Thilina Kandamby tried to fight back but the Indian bowlers were on top of them.
Kapugedera made 55 while Kandamby made 31. Ashish Nehra took 4 wickets for India while Zaheer Khan and Ravindra Jadeja shared 2 wickets each.
Sri Lanka were all out for 187 in 44.4 overs, getting defeated by 81 runs in the final. And India reclaimed their final glory for the 5th time in the Asia Cup.
Men’s T20 Asia Cup Final, Dhaka Vs. Bangladesh
The Asia Cup was arranged by Bangladesh for the 5th time. This is the first time the Asia Cup was held in a T20 format. The first Asia Cup T20 title was held by the Indian team as they beat Bangladesh by 8 wickets in the final.
India remained unbeaten throughout the 2016 Asia Cup thanks to their all-round consistent performance. On the other hand, Bangladesh, as an emerging force as they were growing each year, beat Pakistan in a thrilling match before the final.
However, India remained unphased by the opponent’s potential and restrained Bangladesh within a challenging total of 120 runs in a rain-reduced 15-over final.
In response, India lost only 2 wickets and reached the target with 7 balls to spare. Opener Shikhar Dhawan made a masterful 60 off 44 while Virat Kohli collected 41 valuable runs. India clinched a comprehensive victory while attaining the Asia Cup championship for the 6th time in total.
Asia Cup Final 2018, Dubai Vs. Bangladesh
India reached the final again in the very next event of the ODI Asia Cup that was held in Dubai in 2018. Bangladesh again managed to reach the final by Pakistan in the semi-final.
India was at their full force throughout the tournament yet again except for the match against Afghanistan who almost grabbed the neck of the Indians in a tie thriller.
However, in the final, both men in blue and green locked their horns tight to claim the title. Batting first, Bangladesh started big. The opening stand between Liton Kumar Das and Mehedy Hasan Miraz put up 120 runs.
Unfortunately, their batting suddenly collapsed, turning from a handsome 120/0 to a shabby 222/10 in 48.3 overs.
India struggled to reach their target as Bangladesh bowlers and fielders were leaving no space to flourish. At last, after a grueling struggle, India managed to hit the home run, and that too in the very last ball of the 50th over!
India won a difficult final of the 2018 Asia Cup by 3 wickets, claiming the title for the 7th time, the highest by any country in the Asia Cup.
Nerve-Wracking Moments in the Final
The very last final the Indian team played was against Bangladesh in Dubai in 2018. That final tested India’s batting skills and nerve at the same time.
In response to Bangladesh’s moderate score of 222, India’s back was held against the wall. They lost 7 wickets in the process and waited until the very last ball of the 50th over to hit the winning run.
Kedar Jadhav and Kuldeep Yadav handled Bangladeshi bowlers for 11 unnerving balls, from 48.1 to 50.0 overs to get the required 9 runs after losing 7 wickets for 2014.
But Mahmudullah’s last delivery drifted a little more down the leg side which grazed Jadhav’s pad and went off to the fine leg. Before the fielder could collect the ball, both batsmen exchanged a run. India was relieved along with millions of fans to attain a striving victory in the final.
A Legacy Etched in the History
Becoming champions seven times in an Asian tournament event in the last forty years is a great achievement in itself. India has marked their legacy in history, claiming these finals with their calm attitude and scintillating performances.
No doubt numerous hours of discussion, planning, and practices have gone into this excellence, hence, transforming it into an imposing contender in the Asian region.
The Asia Cup is a prestigious ICC-approved tournament in which India has proven their worth to achieve the glory they possess now.