SRI vs PAK: Sri Lanka clinch 6th Asia Cup title

With a victory of 23 runs over the team that was considered to be the favorite to win the Asia Cup in Dubai, Sri Lanka was crowned champions of the tournament for the sixth time. A counterattacking batting effort from Bhanuka Rajapaksa (71* off 45) and Wanindu Hasaranga (36 off 21) was essential to Sri Lanka’s win of the title. They lifted Sri Lanka from 58/5 and set 171 for Pakistan, a target that proved to be too high for Babar Azam and the company to achieve on the night in question.

They were bowled out for 147 in 20 overs, and Sri Lanka won five Twenty20 Internationals in a row for the first time since April 2014, bringing their win streak to five.

SRI vs PAK: The toss added some flavor to the proceedings

Prior to this championship match, Sri Lanka’s lone defeat in the competition occurred when they were the team to bat first. To be fair, it wasn’t a one-off incident of them failing to put a total on the board; since the 2021 T20 World Cup, Sri Lanka had lost all seven matches in which they batted first and came out on the losing side.

In addition, the location of the competition further increased the difficulty of the task at hand; teams chasing in Dubai had won 26 of the previous 30 games leading up to this final. Therefore, when the toss of the coin went in Pakistan’s favor, it put Sri Lanka’s batting-first constraints against Pakistan’s less-than-stellar chasing record, resulting in an exciting competition.

SRI vs PAK: How did SL get to 58/5 in the first place?

The tempo that Pakistan brought to the front was simply unbeatable. More pace was waiting for them in the form of Haris Rauf, who chalked up pace in excess of 150 and picked up the wickets of Pathum Nissanka (caught at mid-off) and Danushka Gunathilaka. Naseem Shah came storming in and shattered Kusal Mendis’s stumps in the opening over (bowled).

After the dismissal of Dhananjaya de Silva, who had been looking like Sri Lanka’s best batter up until that point, things went from bad to worse when Iftikhar Ahmed took him out.

SRI vs PAK: Let’s move on to discussing that partnership, shall we?

In retrospect, the counterattacking combo of Wanindu Hasaranga and Bhanuka Rajapaksa took Pakistan completely by surprise. For the sixth wicket, the two batsmen combined to score 58 runs off of 36 balls.

Hasaranga, in particular, was aggressive against both pace and spin, and he even struck Rauf for two consecutive boundaries before edging one to the keeper. Hasaranga even hit Rauf for two consecutive boundaries before he edged one to the keeper.

After that, Rajapaksa took charge, finishing his innings with six fours and three sixes and assisting his team in adding 53 runs in the final five overs. It was only the second occasion in 2022 that Sri Lanka managed to score 150 or more runs when batting first in a Twenty20 international.   

SRI vs PAK: They may have been restricted by Pakistan at a lower score

Yes. The pitch had a good bounce, which was beneficial for shot-making, but it also offered sufficient grip for bowlers. But instead of hitting Sri Lanka when they were five runs down, Babar Azam gave Rajapaksa and Hasaranga the opportunity to get their sights in against three overs of spin.

The fielding by Pakistan in the final five overs of the match was again of no assistance. After Rajapaksa collided with Asif Ali at deep mid-wicket and made for another drop, he was dropped for a second time. The first time, it was by Shadab Khan when he was on 49 at long-on.

In contrast, Sri Lanka was successful in catching every ball that was pitched their way at the “Ring of Fire” stadium in Dubai, which is not always a simple task.

SRI vs PAK: What exactly went wrong with Pakistan and chase?

Mohammad Rizwan’s slow-cooked fifty lacked the desire to chase something like 171 in a high-pressure final due to Babar Azam’s form. In retrospect, Pakistan was unable to launch a comeback after losing Babar (caught at short fine leg) and Fakhar Zaman (chopped on) off successive balls bowled by Pramod Madushan. This prevented them from being able to retaliate (who finished with 4 for 34). Both Iftikhar Ahmed and Rizwan got off to a poor start, which resulted in Pakistan being 68/2 at the midway point of the match.

To be fair to the pair, they had performed well against Hasaranga. They had scored 25 runs off of his first three overs, but his fourth over is generally regarded as the over that effectively ended the game. In that one over, Pakistan lost three wickets, including that of a well-set Rizwan who had scored 55 runs off 49 balls, Asif Ali, and Khushdil Shah, and as a result, they were bowled out for 147 in 20 overs.


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