Asia Cup Final: Sri Lanka Trump Pakistan by 23 Runs to Win Asia Cup Title

Bhanuka Rajapaksa top-scored for Sri Lanka with 71 not out 45 off balls.

4 min read
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  • Sri Lanka beat Pakistan by 23 runs in the Asia Cup final in Dubai on Sunday.

  • Sri Lanka posted 170 for six after being put in to bat first with Bhanuka Rajapaksa top-scoring with 71* off 45.

  • In response, Pakistan could only manage 147 before being bowled out in 20 overs.


Sri Lanka, a country struggling due to enormous financial turbulence, found 11 worthy heroes on a cricket pitch on Sunday night in Dubai as Dasun Shanaka's unheralded bunch crushed Pakistan by 23 runs to win their sixth Asia Cup title.

It was a victory that was just not about cricket but way beyond that, with much deeper historical and political importance.

It was a stellar performance from Sri Lanka who first raised themselves from the dungeons to reach 170/6 from a rather poor start that saw them at 58/5. Bhanuka Rajapaksa's 45-ball-71 though helped salvage the innings as he helped them get to 170/6.

During the chase, Pakistan were cruising along at 93 for 2 but were finally bowled out Pakistan for 147 as pacer Pramod Madushan (4/34 in 4 overs) and leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga (3/27 in 4 overs) ensured that the few thousands of Sri Lankan fans in the stadium out-cheered the 20,000 odd Pakistan supporters.

Bhanuka Rajapaksa top-scored for Sri Lanka with 71 not out 45 off balls.

Sri Lanka's Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva, fourth left, celebrates with teammates after the dismissal of Pakistan's Mohammad Rizwan during the T20 cricket Asia Cup final.

(Photo: PTI)

The 17th over by Hasaranga served as Pakistan's death knell with three wickets falling in quick succession.

It was Rajapaksa, who laid the foundation, Madushan, who built the structure and Hasaranga, who gave the finishing touches.

The whippy right-arm fast medium Madushan, who got Babar Azam (5) and Fakhar Zaman (0), gave Sri Lanka the upper-hand at the start of the chase.

While Babar was guilty of flicking a wide long hop down leg side straight into short fine leg fielder's hands, Fakhar dragged an angular delivery back onto stumps.

Rizwan (55 off 49 balls) as usual played the sheet anchor's role hitting the odd boundaries as Iftikhar Ahmed (32 of 31 balls) started hitting after 10 overs but Madushan coming back for his second spell had him holed out in the deep.

If there was one difference between the sides, it was fielding. While Pakistan were poor on the field dropping catches, Sri Lankans took some smart catches and were outstanding in the deep mid-wicket bounary.

At one point, even the spectators got frustrated with Rizwan's push and prod game which is good for totals in the 150 range but not the 170 plus ones. Finally when the pressure went above critical limit, Hasaranga had him caught at deep.

Bhanuka Rajapaksa top-scored for Sri Lanka with 71 not out 45 off balls.

Pakistan's Haris Rauf celebrates the dismissal of Sri Lanka's Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva during the T20 cricket Asia Cup final match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

(Photo: PTI)

It was a good toss to win for Babar Azam until Rajapaksa's calculated assault at the death saw 50 runs being scored off last 4 overs.

Young Naseem Shah (1/40 in 4 overs) and the uber cool Haris Rauf (3/29 in 4 overs) bowled with a lot of pace and fire extracting movement off the track as they broke the backbone of the Lankan batting within the Powerplay overs before Rajapaksa scored one of his finest fifties considering the situation that his team was in.

The spinners leg-spinner Shadab Khan (1/28 in 4 overs) maintained his prolific consistency that has been one of the hallmarks of Pakistan team in this tournament.

However, Rajapaksa (71 of 45 balls) and Wanindu Hasaranga (36 off 21 balls) added 58 quick runs after Sri Lanka were left gasping for breath at 58 for 5.

Bhanuka Rajapaksa top-scored for Sri Lanka with 71 not out 45 off balls.

Asia Cup Final: Bhanuka Rajapaksa top-scored for Sri Lanka with 71 not out 45 off balls

(Photo: PTI)

There was another 54 run stand with Chamika Karunaratne and Sri Lanka did cross the 160-run mark. Shah, the 19-year-old pace sensation bowled one of the most lethal off-cutters seen in this tournament as it pitched back of length but moved in sharply, giving no time to in-form Kusal Mendis (0) to bring his bat down.

While Dhananjaya de Silva (28 off 21 balls) did hit some picturesque cover drives, there was no support literally from the other end.

Pathum Nissanka (8), got a fuller outswinger from Rauf, which he mistimed while Danushka Gunathilaka (1) got a nice outswinger (inswinger for left-hander) which was fast and full, pegging his stumps back.

Once the pacers dismissed three out of the top four batters, the pressure increased and De Silva offered a simple return catch to Iftikhar, who isn't even their regular spinner.

While pacers forced the Lankan batters with pace and movement, if any player, who could be blamed for atrocious shot selection would be Dasun Shanaka, who was clean bowled by Shadab trying to hoick a fuller delivery from the wrist spinner over cow corner.

However Rajapaksa with his all-round strokeplay did give Sri Lankan total lot of respectability. He hit six fours and three sixes and the flick off Naseem for a maximum was a treat for the eyes.

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Topics:  Asia Cup 2022 

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