UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: For the first time since 2014, Sri Lanka won the Asia Cup and showed signs of being a powerful force. A tenacious team led by Dasun Shanaka defeated Pakistan by 23 runs in the continental championship match before the T20 World Cup on Sunday, September 11, in Dubai.
The Sri Lankan cricketers ran a courageous campaign, giving their domestic supporters something to rejoice about amid the island country’s ongoing financial difficulties.
Sri Lanka finished the Super 4 stage unblemished, taking that momentum into the final to take home the Asia Cup trophy. It was a dream run for the team led by Chris Silverwood, who wasn’t thought to be a contender. Sri Lanka hasn’t actually guaranteed itself a spot in the T20 World Cup, which begins on October 10 in Australia.
When Afghanistan defeated Sri Lanka by eight wickets in the opening game of the Asia Cup 2022, it appeared that Sri Lanka, who was once a major force not just in Asia but also in the world of cricket, would be eliminated early. But the defending champions rallied to defeat Bangladesh in a nail-biter in their last Group B match and secure a spot in the Super 4 round.
Dasun Shanaka’s team was the only one to go undefeated in the Super 4 stage, thrashing Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan before completing their fantastic comeback in the final.
The icing on the cake was Sri Lanka proving doubters wrong by winning the game in Dubai despite losing the toss, which had proven a nightmare for teams that chose to bat first.
Bowlers help Sri Lanka to seize the victory
Sri Lanka dismissed Pakistan for 147 in 20 overs while defending 171. With statistics of 3/27, Wanindu Hasaranga took all three wickets in his penultimate over. Hasaranga was the one who, by taking the crucial wicket of Mohammad Rizwan, in the 17th over, precipitated Pakistan’s collapse. The Royal Challengers Bangalore spinner dismissed Rizwan for 55 runs off of 49 balls.
After gobbling up 49 balls, Rizwan struggled to get going, placing tremendous strain on the lower-middle order. This resulted from him not pushing himself enough in the middle overs.
In the crucial final, Sri Lanka never allowed their level of effort to decrease, and Pakistan lost their final six wickets for just 37 runs.
After Dilshan Madushanka bowled an expensive first over, giving up ten additional runs without delivering a legal delivery, Pramod Madushan helped Sri Lanka defend 170 runs by helping his team slow down the scoring rate.
Babar Azam was taken out by Madushan for five runs as the Pakistani captain’s difficulties in the Asia Cup persisted. Babar scored 68 runs in 6 games to cap off a disappointing Asia Cup season.
Madushan, a young right-arm pacer who made his debut in the Asia Cup, finished with figures of 4 for 34 and was the match-winner in the major final.
Rajapaksa’s heroic show
After losing the toss and being forced to bat first, Sri Lanka was in trouble at 58 for five earlier in the day. Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Mendis, Sri Lanka’s in-form openers, were quickly dismissed by a stunning fast-bowling performance from Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah.
But Sri Lanka battled back once more. This time, Bhanuka Rajapaksa spearheaded the recovery with an incredible 45-ball 71 not out. Together with Hasaranga and Chamika Karunaratne, he sewed more than fifty stands. Hasaranga’s 21-ball 36 came off a counterattack, which gave Sri Lanka the upper hand.
Bhanuka, who had rallied after being passed over for the white-ball team, provided the winning stroke by smashing two sixes in the final two deliveries to dash Pakistan’s hopes.
Sri Lanka 170 for 6 (Rajapaksa 71*, Rauf 3-29) beat Pakistan 147 all out (Rizwan 55, Madushan 4-34, Hasaranga 3-27) by 23 runs