Probuddha Bhattacharjee ∙ Sep 12 2022, 3:30 AM

Asia Cup 2022, Finals: The underdogs tame the favourites

image-l7xqf08nSri Lanka with their 6th Asia Cup title (PC: Twitter)

The Asia Cup reached its end with a fitting final competition between Sri Lanka and Pakistan. In a game that had moments for both the teams to be seized it was Sri Lanka who kept their nerves and won the tournament for the sixth time in their history. 

After a defeat in the opening encounter against Afghanistan it was a remarkable turn-around from the Lankan lions. They won five matches on the trot to emerge as the champions of the 15th edition of the Asia Cup. 

Let us take a look at the final and try to find out the match defining moments. 

Bhanuka Rajapaksa, the saviour

image-l7xqgrv1Bhanuka Rajapaksa played a special knock in the final of Asia Cup (PC: Twitter)

Having won the toss Pakistan decided to field first in the match. It has been the general tradition of the tournament that the team batting second has won the matches. 

The Pakistani bowlers also responded well to Babar Azam’s decision and had Sri Lanka reeling at 58 for 5 at one stage. It was at this stage that Bhanuka Rajapaksa formed a partnership with Wanindu Hasaranga and helped his team crawl back into the match. 

It was mainly Rajapaksa who determined the pace of the Sri Lanka innings. Let us take a look at how he went about building his innings. 

image-l7xqa19iStrike Rate vs Balls graph of Bhanuka Rajapaksa's innings

When Rajapaksa walked in, Sri Lanka were in serious trouble at 36 for 3 in the 6th over of the innings. But the situation did not get to his head and he went about his business in a positive way. While maintaining a strike rate of above 100 in each phase of his knock, Rajapaksa ensured that the scoreboard kept ticking for his team. 

At the end he reached a strike-rate of 280 and helped Sri Lanka reach 170 runs from their 20 overs. It was Rajapaksa’s maturity and composed innings that helped Sri Lanka to a respectable total. 

Wanindu Hasaranga, the match winner

image-l7xqjsamWanindu Hasaranga changed the complexion of the match in one over (PC: Twitter)

While batting Wanindu Hasaranga joined hands with Rajapaksa when Sri Lanka were struggling at 58 for 5 in the 9th over of the innings. At this stage the duo built a partnership of 58 runs off just 36 balls. 

The partnership not only steadied the ship, it injected much needed momentum into the Sri Lankan innings. Hasaranga’s 36 off 21 ensured that Rajapaksa never felt the pressure of doing it all alone and hence the memorable knock from the southpaw. 

But Hasranaga left the biggest impact in the match during the second innings. He was brought in to bowl his last and final over of the spell in the 17th over of the Pakistan innings. 

Pakistan needed 61 runs at this stage off 24 balls. The players at the crease were a well settled Mohammad Rizwan at 55* off 47 and the power hitter Khushdil Shah. 

What Hasaranga did in the over was nothing short of magical. He picked up the wickets of Rizwan, Asif Ali and Khushdil and conceded just 2 runs. A match that could have gone down to the wire was finished by Hasaranga in that magical over. 

With his valuable runs during batting and the momentum changing over during bowling Hasaranga was the highest impact player of the match. 

Also Read: SL vs PAK: Sri Lanka decimate Pakistan by 23 runs to clinch the trophy