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Rajapaksa, bowlers inspire Sri Lanka to Asia Cup title

Rajapaksa, bowlers inspire Sri Lanka to Asia Cup title
September 11, 2022 Web Desk

DUBAI (92 News) - An astonishing counterattack from Bhanuka Rajapaksa and impressive bowling performances from Pramod Madushan and Wanindu Hasaranaga set up a comfortable 23-run win for Sri Lanka over Pakistan in the final of the ACC Men’s T20 Asia Cup at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday. This was the sixth instance of the island nation bagging the title.

Sri Lanka had set Pakistan 171 to win and that they were able to manage the imposing total was because of a scintillating 45-ball 71 not out from Rajapaksa.

The left-handed middle order batter rescued his team from a precarious 58 for five and added 58 and 54 runs with Hasaranga (21-ball 36, five fours and a six) and Chamika Karunaratne as 103 runs were added to the Sri Lankan total at the loss of just one wicket in the last 10 overs.

It was a turnaround of epic proportions considering the start Pakistan quicks had provided to their side. Naseem Shah’s brute of a delivery that nipped back into Kusal Mendis to dislodge his stumps provided Pakistan the first wicket on just the third delivery and Haris Rauf accounted for Pathum Nissanka, the other opener, as he holed out to mid-off.

Haris struck again with an incredible in-swinger to left-hander Danushka Gunathilaka that reduced Sri Lanka to 36 for three at 5.1 overs. Pakistan captain Babar Azam’s astute move to introduce the off-spin of Iftikhar Ahmed garnered his side the wicket of dangerous looking Dhananjaya de Silva, who had spanked four classic boundaries in the cover region in his 28 off 21.

Haris finished with brilliant figures of three for 29.

Pakistan stuttered in their run chase right from the beginning as Madushan’s double blows in the fourth over sent Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman back in the hut for just 22 runs.

Iftikhar Ahmed and Mohammad Rizwan staged a marvellous recovery with a 71-run partnership. Rizwan’s fighting innings saw him score 55 off 49 deliveries, finishing the tournament as the leading run-getter with 281 runs in six innings at an average of 56.20.

As Iftikhar started to take on the bowlers, Madushan struck again and had him caught at deep square-leg for 32 off 31 in the 14th over. Two overs later, Mohammad Nawaz pulled Karunaratne into the hands of deep fine-leg and the dismissal sparked a collapse that saw them lose their next five wickets for 15 runs.

Hasaragna struck thrice in one over – sending Rizwan, Asif Ali and Khushdil Shah back – and returned three for 27. Madushan dismissed Naseem Shah in the penultimate over to finish with four for 34.

Karunaratne (two for 27) bowled Mohammad Hasnain on the last ball of the match as Pakistan were bowled out for 147.

Scores in brief:

Sri Lanka 170-6, 20 overs (Bhanuka Rajapaksa 71 not out, Wanindu Hasaranga 36, Dhanajaya de Silva 28; Haris Rauf 3-29)

Pakistan 147 all out, 20 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 55, Iftikhar Ahmed 32; Pramod Madushan 4-34, Wanindu Hasaranga 3-27, Chamika Karunaratne 2-33)

Player of the match – Bhanuka Rajapaksa (Sri Lanka)

Player of the series - Wanindu Hasaranga (Sri Lanka)