Way before the idea of the World Test Championship (WTC) was introduced, the Test-playing nations of Asia, i.e., India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh contested in a multi-team Test tournament which was known as the Asian Test Championship.
The initial idea behind hosting the Asian Test Championships was to plan it every two years, alternatively to the Asia Cup.
Asian Test Championship is regarded as the precursor to the WTC and was only the second Test tournament at the time which involved more than two teams. The first was the Triangular Tournament of 1912 which was played between Australia, England and South Africa. The idea behind the Triangular Tournament eventually proved to be way ahead of its time at the start of the 20th century.
Almost 90 years later, the Asian Cricket Council orgainsed a similar multi-team red-ball competition in their continent.
Asian Test Championship 1998/99
The first edition of the Asian Test Championship was played in 1999 between three teams - India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The first-ever match of the Asian Test Championship 1999 saw India pitted against Pakistan at the iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata on February 16. All hell broke loose that day as Shoaib Akhtar rattled Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar’s stumps with successive yorkers. Pakistan went on to win the match by 46 runs, riding on Saeed Anwar’s unbeaten 188 in the second innings.
The next two matches, India vs Sri Lanka and Pakistan vs Sri Lanka were drawn, which gave the Lankan Lions a passage to the final. Sri Lanka squared off against Pakistan and failed to contain the bowling brilliance of their opponent before eventually losing out by an innings and 175 runs.
Pakistan were crowned the champions of the first-ever edition of the Asian Test Championship.
Asian Test Championship 2001-02
The second edition saw India pulling out of the competition due to political tension with Pakistan and were replaced by Bangladesh, who had achieved Test status by then.
However, on this occasion, the Lankan Lions got some payback as Sri Lanka avenged their defeat in the previous edition after beating Pakistan by eight wickets in the final at Lahore.
After two successful editions, the Asian Cricket Council decided to discontinue the Asian Test Championship due to the packed international cricket schedule.
Featured Image: AFP