Sri Lanka, a country torn to pieces after the death of democracy while facing massive financial turmoil, found 11 deserving heroes on the cricket pitch as the unchallenged bunch of Dasun Shanaka clinched their sixth Asia Cup title here on Sunday. Beat Pakistan by 23 runs to win. It was a victory that was not just about cricket but went beyond that which had deep historical and political significance. It was one for posterity as Sri Lanka pushed themselves to 170 for 6 from the dungeon for the first time due to Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s 45-ball 71.
If that wasn’t enough, Pakistan, who were cruising for 93 for 2, were eventually defeated in the form of pacer Pramod Madushan (4/34 in 4 overs) and leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga (3/27 in four overs). I was dismissed for 147 runs. ) ensured that a few thousand Sri Lankan fans cheered 20,000 odd Pakistani fans.
Hasranga’s 17th over, which acted as Pakistan’s death, saw three wickets falling quickly.
It was Rajapaksa, who laid the foundation, Madushan, who built the structure and Hasaranga, who finalized.
Sri Lanka don’t have prime dons like the ‘Men in Blue’ but have a team of good cricketers who have understood how to win crunch matches from the dead.
Right-arm fast medium Madushan, who dismissed Babar Azam (5) and Fakhar Zaman (0), gave Sri Lanka the lead while chasing the target.
While Babar was guilty of flicking a wide long hop down the leg side straight into the hands of a short fine leg fielder, Fakhar pulled an angular delivery back over the stumps.
Rizwan (55 off 49 balls) played the sheet anchor, hitting odd boundaries as usual as Iftikhar Ahmed (32 off 31 balls) started hitting after 10 overs, but Madushan struck for his second spell. Coming back and dismissed him in the deep.
If there was a difference between the sides, it was the fielding. While Pakistan was poor in terms of dropping catches, Sri Lanka took some smart catches and were excellent at deep mid-wicket boundaries.
At one point, the spectators were even disappointed with Rizwan’s pushy game, which is good for totals in the 150 range, but not for the 170 plus one. Finally when the pressure went above the critical limit, Hasranga caught him in the deep.
It was good for Babar to win the toss as the Pakistan pacers got off to a bang before Rajapaksa’s brilliance ensured a challenging total for the islanders.
Rajapaksa’s deliberate attack on death saw 50 runs in the last 4 overs.
Young Naseem Shah (1/4 in 4 overs) and uber cool Haris Rauf (3/29 in 4 overs) bowled very fast and bowled at incendiary pace from the track as they batted Lanka within the powerplay The spine was broken. Rajapaksa scored one of his finest half-centuries considering the condition of his team.
Rajapaksa and Wanindu Hasaranga (36 off 21 balls) added 58 quick runs after Sri Lanka scored 58 for 5.
There was another 54-run stand with Chamika Karunaratne as Sri Lanka crossed the 160-run mark. Shah, the 19-year-old pacer, bowled one of the deadliest off-cutters in the tournament as it pitched backwards at length but moved quickly, no one to bring up his bat to Kusal Mendis (0). Time not given Below
While Dhananjaya de Silva (28 off 21 balls) hit some picturesque cover drives, there was no support from the other end.
However Rajapaksa brought the Sri Lankan total respect with his all-round strokeplay. He hit six fours and three sixes and Naseem’s maximum flick was a treat for the eyes. Equally good was Naseem’s ramp flick, scoring four runs before cover point from six overs to take Lanka to 170.
When Shadab bowled a googly or Iftikhar hit the off-break, Rajapaksa played some clever late cuts as Babar was getting a bit restless.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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