Wanindu Hasaranga’s all-round performance gave something to cheer about for crisis-ridden people back home as Sri Lanka lifted Asia Cup by beating Pakistan by 23 runs in the final at Dubai International Stadium here on Sunday.
This was Sri Lanka’s 6th Asia Cup trophy.
A quickfire 36 off 21 balls by Hasaranga and picking up three wickets in his fourth over, turned the tables on Pakistan as they were cruising with the dangerous Mohammad Rizwan at the crease.
An impressive 71 not out by Bhanuka Rajapaksha also proved costly for Pakistan as at one point they were on the top with Sri Lanka losing 5 wickets for just 58 runs on board.
Pakistan opener Rizwan’s 55 off 49 was not enough and other batsmen succumbed to Pramod Madhushan early on and to Hasaranga towards the end.
Madhushan picked up 4 wickets.
Chasing the 171-run target, Pakistan were under the pump right away as they lost out-of-form skipper Babar Azam (5) early on to Madushan. And in the very next ball, Fakhar Zaman was dismissed on a golden duck.
Rizwan dropped anchor and built up a 71-run stand with Iftikar Ahmed for the fourth wicket. The latter managed 32 off 31 balls before falling to Madhushan who gleefully celebrated his third wicket.
Shadab Khan (8) and Haris Rauf (13) had an uphill task of getting 59 runs in the last three overs. The tailenders tried hard but it was too much for them.
Earlier, Rajapakasha’s unbeaten 71 helped Sri Lanka to post a defending 170/6.
Rajapaksha walked into the field with Sri Lanka were tottering at 53/4 in 7.4 overs in a belter of a pitch. He took his time to settle in and once his eyes were set in, the left-hander showcased his trademark shots.
Rajapaksha soon lost his captain Dasun Shanaka for 2, further pushing Sri Lanka into a deep hole with the total reading 58/5 in 8.5 overs. But Rajapaksha and Wanindu Hasaranga (36 off 21, 5x4s 1×6)
brought Sri Lanka into the game with their match-saving partnership. Both added 58 runs for the sixth wicket.
After the partnership was broken, Rajapakasha and Chamika Karunaratne (14 no in 14, 1×6) gave Sri Lanka the finishing touch by adding 54 runs off only 31 balls, an unbelievable recovery that bloated the total past 150 runs.
Rapapaksa was dropped twice towards the end, and surely that would come back to haunt Pakistan whenever they would be in trouble in the ups and downs of the run chase.
In the first half, however, Pakistan were totally dominant, restricting Sri Lanka to 67/5. Haris Rauf was the star bowler, claiming three wickets for 29 runs. He would have got a couple of more wickets if the catches were held in death overs.