An unbeaten 71-runs from Bhanuka Rajapaksa and solid knocks from Dhananjaya de Silva and Wanindu Hasaranga powered Sri Lanka to 170/6 in their 20 overs against Pakistan in the final of Asia Cup 2022 here in Dubai on Sunday.
Pakistan will not be happy with how things turned out for them. Despite having SL reeling at 42/3 in the powerplay, they let Rajapaksa (71*), Hasaranga (36) and Silva (28) guide their side to a challenging total. Haris Rauf though had an impressive outing with 3/29.
Fielding first, Pakistan was off to a great start as pacer Naseem Shah removed dangerous opener Kusal Mendis for a golden duck. A 142 kmph delivery came in, clipped the pads of the batter and dismantled his off stump. Sri Lanka was at 1/2.
With this, Dhananjaya de Silva joined Pathum Nissanka. Silva delighted the excited Sri Lankan crowd with some well-placed drives. Nissanka also seemed to have joined his partner in a counterattack with a cover drive of his own. But pacer Haris Rauf put an end to this brief 21-run stand by dismissing Nissanka for just eight runs off 11 balls, who was trying to hit big over mid-on where Babar Azam took a good running catch.
Danushka Gunathilaka joined Silva at the crease, looking to take Lankans past powerplay without any damage. Silva continued finding gaps at will. But on the other side, Pakistan continued to find the stumps of their opponents, with Rauf getting his second victim. He sent back Gunathilaka for just one off four balls to reduce SL to 36/3. A 151 kmph delivery caught the batter off guard and dismantled the furniture before he could even play his shot.
Bhanuka Rajapaksa was next on crease and started his inning with a lucky boundary as a 153 kmph delivery got the thick outside edge of his bat and went straight to boundary line.
Sri Lanka ended a harsh powerplay with 42 runs on the board at loss of three wickets, with Silva (24*) and Rajapaksa (6*) at the crease.
The road after powerplay was not smooth for Lanka either as Silva was caught and bowled by Iftikhar Ahmed for 28 off 21 balls. Spin had joined the party.
This brought skipper Shanaka to the crease, who could only score two off five balls after Shadab Khan’s spin deceived him. He missed the ball big time while attempting to sweep and was clean bowled. With this, half of Sri Lankan team was back in the hut for 58.
So far, Rajapaksa had held an end steady. Wanindu Hasaranga joined him next. At the end of 10 overs, SL was at 67/5, Rajapaksa (20*) and Hasaranga (6*) were at the crease.
Hasaranga hit the first six of the innings in the 13th over bowled by Mohammad Hasnain, which brought SL 14 runs. The stand of Rajapaksa and Hasaranga helped SL reach 100-run mark in 13.1 overs.
The scoreboard kept ticking for SL and this partnership completed 50 runs in 14.2 overs. It was important for both to finish things off for Lanka and guide them to a challenging score. Hasaranga was the aggressor in the stand, scoring valuable 36 off 21 balls after being caught behind by wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan on a Rauf delivery. The pacer got his third wicket of the match, which ended a threatening 58-run stand.
At the end of 15 overs, Sri Lanka was at 117/6, with Rajapaksa (37*) joined by Chamika Karunaratne (1*).
Sri Lanka had made up for their powerplay hiccups with their game in middle overs, scoring 78 runs at loss of three wickets. Rajapaksa and Karunaratne then made a mockery of Naseem Shah, smashing him for two sixes and taking 16 runs from his over.
Rajapaksa brought up his third T20 half-century in 18th over off 35 balls. He had helped Lanka stay in the game despite some early wickets and had to bat till the end for the betterment of his side.
Hasnain’s 19th over though helped Pakistan get a breather for first five balls, but Rajapaksa hit a six on the final ball, after he survived a catch attempt after two fielders collided.
Sri Lanka ended their innings at 170/6 in 20 overs. They had made a brilliant recovery from scoring 42/3 in powerplay. They made 78 runs in middle overs from overs 7-16 and got 50 runs in the death overs.
Rajapaksa scored an unbeaten in 71 off 45 balls with six fours and three sixes. Karuratne (14*) stood tall with him to form a 54 run stand off just 31 balls.
Haris Rauf was the leading bowler for Pakistan, taking 3/29 in four overs. Shadab, Iftikhar and Naseem got one wicket each. Pakistan needs 171 runs to win their third Asia Cup title.
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