The Asia Cup title for 2022 will be won on Sunday when Sri Lanka take on Pakistan in Dubai for the second time in three days. Their opening encounter in the tournament was a dead rubber but this one has everything on it.
Sri Lanka won the Super 4 meeting between the two here on Friday and another win will see them claim the title. Pakistan haven’t won this tournament for a decade and will be looking to end that drought in this final.
When you think back to the beginning of the tournament and how Sri Lanka were absolutely battered by Afghanistan if you had said that they would still be around when the title was played for you wouldn’t have found many people agreeing with you. Everyone is allowed a bad performance though and it turns out theirs came when it mattered least, particularly as they immediately made that loss null and void by winning their next match.
Sri Lanka have been fortunate enough to be chasing in all four matches since that horrendous start and while we all know this is a tournament for the chasers, you still have to handle the scoreboard pressure which the Sri Lankans have done when you consider they have chased down scores of 183/7, 175/6 and 174/4. They also beat Pakistan on Friday so if Sri Lanka aren’t going into this final feeling good about themselves they never will be.
Pakistan suffered the same fate as Sri Lanka in that they lost their opening match of the tournament but have rebounded nicely since then. Their opening loss was nowhere near as dramatic or emphatic as the one Sri Lanka suffered but it still left them needing to rebuild. They have been very good in the matches that have mattered and although they were beaten by Sri Lanka in their most recent game on Friday, both teams were already into the final by then so there was nothing on that one.
If there is a concern for Pakistan going into this final it is that they haven’t really impressed with the bat. They are a little top three heavy for my liking anyway but a couple of those don’t look in the best form and you wonder if they will find enough form to get the job done should they have the pressure of the scoreboard against them. Pakistan have bowled well throughout the competition though which might matter more in a final.
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Sri Lanka chose not to rest anyone for the match against Pakistan on Friday and were rewarded with a victory. They are unlikely to make any changes to their XI unless they have any late injury or illness issues.
Pakistan did rest some of their bowlers for that match and they are all expected to be recalled so we should see Pakistan line up something like they did against Afghanistan in their second match of the Super 4 stage.
Wanindu Hasaranga was the hero in the first game between these two on Friday and I expect him to have another good match in this final. If he isn’t better than Rashid Khan in this format of the game he isn’t a million miles behind him and so I think the leg spinner is going to be key if Sri Lanka are going to be crowned champions here. He has a performance line of just 37.5 for this final and that looks on the low side to me.
Hasaranga has played four T20s against Pakistan and he has taken three wickets in three of those matches and two in the other so he has a fantastic record against this opponent and there is no reason that won’t continue here. In a weird quirk he has taken five catches in those four matches and he has batted in them all too. Two wickets will be more than enough to cover this line but with catches and runs also potential scoring options there is more than enough to suggest that the star Sri Lankan leggie can clear this target.
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