Asia Cup 2022, Super 4, Pak vs SL: Babar Azam's poor run continues; Sri Lanka top league stage
Asia Cup 2022, Super 4, Pakistan vs Sri Lanka: Wanindu Hasaranga's 3-21, Pathum Nissanka's 55* and Haris Rauf's 2-19 are top three performances. Sri Lanka beat Pakistan by five wickets.
Brief Scores: Pakistan 121 (Babar 30, Nawaz 26, Hasaranga 3-21) lost to Sri Lanka 124-5 (Nissanka 55*, Rajapaksa 24, Rauf 2-19) by 5 wickets
Player of the Match: Wanindu Hasaranga (3-21) & 2 catches
Babar “minnow basher” Azam failed again! His last five innings read 10, 9, 14, 0 and 30. Babar’s struggle is putting pressure on Mohammad Rizwan to score from the start resulting in a wicket of either of the two batters. Pakistan’s middle order has now disappointed in two consecutive matches and a clear weakness of Pakistan’s dependency on Babar and Rizwan can be exploited by Sri Lanka in finals and also by other teams in the World Cup.
In all fairness, it can only be said here that Babar Azam fans would be hoping that "this too shall pass" for their captain before the world cup.
Sri Lanka blast out Pakistan for 121 within 20 overs
Sri Lanka took on Pakistan in the last match of the Super 4 games in a dead rubber before the finals. The last time Pakistan played Sri Lanka in a T20I was in 2019, where Sri Lanka whitewashed the home team 3-0. Head-to-head though, Pakistan have had an upper hand over Sri Lanka in T20Is, winning 13, while the latter have been victorious on just 8 occasions.
Luck was favouring the Lankans as Dasun Shanaka won the toss and the rest was just a formality as they decided to field first. Pakistan rested the two heroes of last match, Naseem Shah and Shadab Khan. While Sri Lanka brought Dhananjay de Silva and Pramod Madushan who was also making his debut for Sri Lanka in T20Is.
Pakistan were off to a decent start with 25-0 after 3 overs until debutant Pramod dismissed the big fish Mohammad Rizwan. The Lankan bowlers applied air brakes to Pakistan’s scoring rate as post Rizwan’s dismissal they could only manage to score two boundaries in the next five overs. Babar’s intent was dull as he was just looking to spend time on the wicket. The out of form Fakhar Zaman too was playing a Test innings wearing the T20 jersey.
Karunaratne brought an end to Fakhar’s innings. Soon after, Wanindu Hasaranga dismissed the ever so struggling Babar for 30. Pakistan were struggling at 74-3 at the end of the 11th over. Hasaranga’s double wicket over ensured Pakistan slipped further to 91-6 at the 15-over mark. Pakistan’s batting had almost given up by then as Maheesh Theekshana completed the formalities by taking two wickets and called curtains on Pakistan’s innings as they were bowled out for 121.
Defending 122, Pakistan needed early wickets and boy oh boy, the Pakistan pace battery never disappoints. Dismissing the in-form Kusal Mendis for a golden duck, Pakistan had the right momentum going in. Haris Rauf too joined the party soon enough sending the out of form Danushka Gunathilaka back to the pavilion. Rauf doubled it up by dismissing Dhananjaya with a peach of a bouncer and Pakistan were looking like they are back into the game with Sri Lanka 29-3 after 5 overs. Then a 59-run stand between Bhanuka Rajapaksa and the solid Pathum Nissanka ensured Sri Lanka were escorted from danger as Nissanka’s fifty helped Sri Lanka cross the line in the last match of the Super 4 stage. Sri Lanka won comfortably by five wickets and with 18 deliveries to spare.
Let’s scan the top three performances from the game between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Asia Cup 2022.
Wanindu Hasaranga dismantles Pakistan with 3-21
Wanindu Hasaranga was brought into the attack as soon as the powerplay was over. Pakistan batters were rather defensive from ball one against Hasaranga. He was wicketless till his 3rd over where he dismissed his match-up, Babar Azam. Babar had a strike rate of just 56.2 against Hasaranga in the 15 deliveries he had faced off him in T20Is but was never dismissed by Wanindu until Friday.
Hasaranga made it big in his in fourth over of the spell, where he picked wickets off consecutive deliveries, dismissing Iftikhar Ahmed for 13 and with an absolute peach of a wrong ‘un that turned in sharply he shattered Asif Ali’s stump for a golden duck. Hasaranga’s last four innings against Pakistan in T20Is read - 2/20, 3/38, 3/21 and 3/21.
Read More: Asia Cup 2022, Super 4, AFG vs SL: Afghanistan bowlers leak vital runs; Sri Lanka win by 4 wickets
Nissanka anchors run chase with a steady 55*
Chasing a mediocre target, Pathum Nissanka played the innings of a perfect sheet anchor. Zero risks but at the same time ensured the scoreboard was ticking well. At no point in the run chase, Nissanka’s strike rate dropped below 100 and that was how well he had this chase under his control. When Sri Lanka were under pressure with 3 wickets down for just 29 after the 5-over mark, Nissanka was calm, composed and knew what he was doing.
Playing second fiddle to Rajapaksa who was taking on the bowlers while Nissanka scored the odd boundaries here and there. After a 59-run stand with Rajapaksa, Nissanka switched gears even though wickets were falling at the other end. A well-crafted and a well-composed innings soon saw Nissanka raising his bat to the gallery for his fifty when Sri Lanka probably needed it the most.
Read More: Asia Cup 2022, Super 4, Ind vs Afg: Kohli finally gets 71st ton; India overpower Afg by 101 runs
Speedster Haris Rauf’s 2-19 only silver lining for Pakistan
With a below par score to defend in a dead rubber, not much was expected out of Pakistan who were playing it rather too casually. Coming in to bowl in the second over of the innings, Haris Rauf dismissed Gunathilaka with a short delivery.
Haris continued the ploy of short deliveries again as he got the better of Dhananjaya de Silva with an absolute rip snorter. A 146 kmph bouncer on the body and Dhananjaya tried to sway away from it only to give catching practice to Babar Azam. Though it wasn’t Pakistan’s night, Haris Rauf tried to bring some life into this dead match with his sheer raw pace troubling the Sri Lankan batters, which could be further exposed in the night of the finals.
Asia Cup 2022, Super 4 Points Table
What’s to Come
After 12 T20I games in a span of just 14 days, we come to the finals of Asia Cup 2022 with the two most deserving teams, Pakistan and Sri Lanka taking on each other on Sunday, September 11 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Read More: Asia Cup 2022, Super 4, Pak vs Afg: Naseem Shah's sixes help Pak beat Afg; to meet SL in Final