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Asia Cup 2022, Final, SL vs Pak: Lankan lions roar on big day; Hasaranga's class wins them 6th title

Asia Cup 2022, Final, Sri Lanka vs Pakistan: Bhanuka Rajapaksa's 71, Wanindu Hasaranga' 3-27 & 36 and Pramod Madushan 4-34 are top three performances. Sri Lanka beat Pakistan by 23 runs.

Asia Cup 2022, Final, Sri Lanka vs Pakistan:  Sri Lanka beat Pakistan by 23 runs in Asia Cup 2022 Final | Walking Wicket (Photo: ©Getty Images)
Sri Lanka beat Pakistan by 23 runs in Asia Cup 2022 (Photo: ©Getty Images)

Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 170-6 (Rajapaksa 71*, Hasaranga 36, Rauf 3-29) beat Pakistan 147 (Rizwan 55, Iftikhar 32, Madushan 4-34, Hasaranga 3-27) by 23 runs

Player of the Match: Bhanuka Rajapaksa – 71*(45)

Player of the Tournament: Wanindu Hasaranga – 9 wickets in 6 games at an economy rate of 7.39

From losing to Afghanistan in the opening game of Asia Cup 2022, and being termed as the new minnows, Sri Lanka then went ahead with their bandwagon without losing a single match to claim the throne in the finals. We saw a complete all-round performance and team effort with bat, ball and especially in the field, as they were determined to win the game with all the emotions flowing in the dressing room.

After a collapse, being 58-5 to ending with 170-6, it needed determination. The same momentum was carried on the field with bowlers firing and fielders buzzingly supporting them. In the backdrop of financial doldrums in their country, this victory will help Sri Lankans around the world have a smile back on their faces. In a parallel world, the champions of Asia though are yet to qualify for the ICC World T20 in Australia. This was also the first instance of Sri Lanka winning five T20I games on the bounce since 2014.

From initial collapse to a strong total of 170-6 and then brilliant bowling, Sri Lanka did it all

Pakistan faced Sri Lanka in the finals of Asia Cup 2022, where they looked to latch onto their third Asia Cup title in the cabinet. Whereas Sri Lanka were in the 11th final in this tournament, hoping to get their sixth Asia Cup trophy just one behind India.

Against the run of tides, unlike the Super 4 stage, Sri Lanka lost the toss and had to come out to bat first. Babar Azam made two changes, bringing their rested players, Shadab Khan and Naseem Shah, back in the squad. Sri Lanka had batted first on seven occasions in 2022, prior to this game and got defeated in all seven of them.

As it was observed in the dress rehearsal, Sri Lanka were found wondering for answers against Pakistan’s pace battery. Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf left no stone unturned as they exploited Sri Lanka’s weak approach against the pacers. Naseem Shah bowled a beauty of an in swinger to dismiss Kusal Mendis for a duck. Rauf then dismissed the stumps of the hero of the last encounter, Pathum Nissanka.

Rauf was in no mood to be complacent as he dismantled Danushka Gunathilaka’s stump. A brilliant move by Babar to bring in part timer Iftikhar Ahmed paid dividends as he dismissed Dhananjaya de Silva, the only Sri Lankan who was looking set. Shadab then added to the wickets tally by dismissing the Sri Lankan captain, Dasun Shanaka. At the halfway stage, Sri Lanka were in all sorts of trouble at 67-5.

Sri Lanka needed magic to get out of the bug and help arrived in the form of Bhanuka Rajapaksa. The left-hander accumulated two 50-run partnerships for the sixth and the seventh wicket, respectively. A 58-run stand with Wanindu Hasaranga and a 54-run stand with Chamika Karunaratne, respectively helped Sri Lanka post a respectable total of 170 runs on the board. This was also the first time ever in T20I history that a team had 50+ partnerships for the sixth and the seventh wicket in an innings. Sri Lanka added 103 runs in the last 10 overs losing just one wicket.

Defending 171, Sri Lanka served a gourmet meal to Pakistan batters by bowling a 11-ball first over. Babar’s poor form continued as he was dismissed for 5 by Pramod Madushan where Dilshan Madushanka took a blinder of a catch. Babar’s last last six innings read 10, 9, 14, 0, 30 and 5. Madushan then dismissed Fakhar Zaman for a golden duck on the very next delivery. Pakistan were in a spot of bother with 24-2 after four overs.

Pakistan needed 147 runs off 96 deliveries with 8 wickets in hand. Mohammad Rizwan and Iftikhar Ahmed needed to build a partnership and boy, they delivered a key partnership for their side. Adding 71 runs together, both ensured Pakistan were not too behind the required run rate with their hard-hitters to come. Madushan was the man with the ball for Sri Lanka as he provided another breakthrough, right when they needed it the most.

A triple wicket over from Hasaranga put the final nail in Pakistan’s coffin. Maheesh Theekshana and Karunaratne completed the formalities as Pakistan were bowled out for 147. The firecrackers went on and Sri Lankans were off celebrating all over the pitch as they were crowned the champions of Asia for the sixth time (now only one behind India). Sri Lanka also became the first team to win the Asia Cup in all the four decades.

Let’s scan the top three performances from the Asia Cup 2022 final between Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Asia Cup 2022, Final, Sri Lanka vs Pakistan_ Bhanuka Rajapaksa's 71 off 45 helps Sri Lanka beat Pakistan in Asia Cup 2022 _ Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©AFP_Getty Images)
Rajapaksa's 71 off 45 helps Sri Lanka beat Pakistan in Asia Cup (Photo: ©AFP/Getty Images)

Bhanuka Rajapaksa rescues Sri Lanka’s boat out of danger with 71*

Sri Lanka were in deep trouble with 62-5 after 9 overs, when Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Wanindu Hasaranga were on the crease together. The Rajapaksa we know smashes the leather of the cricket ball right from ball one. However, this was a different Rajapaksa altogether. A collective, composed and sensible Rajapaksa was on show at the all-important finals.

Taking his time to settle in, with zero risk shots, playing second fiddle to Hasaranga, Rajapaksa was playing at a strike rate of under 125 till the 14th over, as he was batting at 37 off 28 deliveries. As soon as Hasaranga was dismissed, Rajapaksa unleashed with his explosive batting for which he is well-known and soon brought up his fifty off just 35 deliveries. A vintage lethargic fielding from Pakistan gave Rajapaksa two lives as he was dropped on the boundary, the culprit on both the occasions was Shadab Khan.

The left-hander scored 14 off the final over to take Sri Lanka from 62-5 in 9 overs to 170-6 at the end of 20 overs. It was rather too awkward for Sri Lankan fans to be chanting Rajapaksa’s name with everything going on in their country. Sure enough Bhanuka Rajapaksa stood there, fought hard and rescued his nation out of trouble, unlike the other Rajapaksa for Sri Lanka.

Asia Cup 2022, Final, Sri Lanka vs Pakistan_ Wanindu Hasaranga gets player of the tournament in Asia Cup 2022_ Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©AFP_Getty Images)
Hasaranga gets player of the tournament in Asia Cup 2022 (Photo: ©AFP/Getty Images)

‘Warrior’indu Hasaranga scores 36 with bat and fetches 3-27 with ball

Wanindu Hasaranga walked in to bat for Sri Lanka when the chips were down for them with 62-5 after 9 overs. It was almost curtains for Sri Lanka, if not for the 58-run partnership between Rajapaksa and Hasaranga. Sri Lanka’s warrior with the ball turned into a fighter with the bat in the night of the finals. When Rajapaksa was taking his time, Hasaranga was scoring the boundaries and took the Pakistan bowlers head on. Attacking Mohammad Hasnain and Haris Rauf for boundaries, Wanindu reached 36 within a blink of an eye, easing the pressure off the shoulders of Rajapaksa. The critical match-turning partnership gave Sri Lanka hopes and it turned the momentum ever so into Sri Lanka’s favour.

Wanindu wasn’t done yet. The number nine T20I bowler in the world provided a masterclass with the ball. After being wickless for three overs, it was seeming as if it wasn’t Hasaranga’s day with the ball. But Wanindu had other plans as he saved his best for the last over of his spell; he dismissed the leg side slogger Rizwan for 55 off his first delivery. Then came Hasaranga’s bunny, Asif Ali’s turn. Failing to read the googly once again in a span of 48 hours, Asif Ali was clean bowled for a golden duck. Asif has been dismissed four times by Hasaranga out of the 11 deliveries the former has faced off the latter so far in T20Is. Hasaranga then went on to dismiss Khushdil Shah to claim his third wicket of the match in a span of four deliveries. This was also Hasaranga’s fourth consecutive three-wicket haul against Pakistan.

Wanindu Hasaranga was also named player of the tournament for his 9 wickets in the 6 games he played in Asia Cup 2022.

Asia Cup 2022, Final, Sri Lanka vs Pakistan_ Pramod Madushan takes 4-34 against Pakistan in Asia Cup 2022_ Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©AFP_Getty Images)
Madushan takes 4-34 against Pakistan in Asia Cup 2022 (Photo: ©AFP/Getty Images)

Pramod Madushan comes out of syllabus for Pakistan with 4-34

Coming to bowl in the fourth over, Pramod Madushan started off with a double wicket over, dismissing Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman off consecutive deliveries. The two wickets inside the powerplay derailed Pakistan’s innings as they were now consolidating rather than being attacking.

After a steady 71-run partnership between Rizwan and Iftikhar, Sri Lanka needed a breakthrough and Madushan had the golden arm in the night of the finals as he dismissed Iftikhar Ahmed with a well-disguised slower delivery. So far, Pakistan had lost three wickets and all three of them were courtesy Pramod Madushan. The youngster added another wicket in his tally by picking Naseem Shah in the final over of his four-over spell to end the match with four wickets.

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