Asia Cup 2022: Bhanuka Rajapaksa hails ‘great win’ as Sri Lanka beat Pakistan to win title
Asia Cup 2022: Following his unbeaten 71 that helped Sri Lanka defeat Pakistan by 23 runs on Sunday, Bhanuka Rajapaksa claimed that Sri Lankan cricket has demonstrated something to the world. This is their sixth Asia Cup victory.
While Pakistan was chasing 171 in Dubai, fast bowler Pramod Madushan (4-34) and Wanindu Hasaranga (3-27) combined for seven wickets, reducing Pakistan to 147.
Earlier, the left-handed Rajapaksa and Hasaranga, who scored 36 runs, put on a crucial 58-run partnership for the sixth wicket to enable Sri Lanka reach 170-6 after being in trouble at 58-5.
A warm-up for the T20 World Cup in Australia next month, Sri Lanka, which was forced to renounce preparations to host the event owing to political upheaval, triumphed after an embarrassing opener loss to Afghanistan.
“We always wanted to show the whole world (what we can do),” said man of the match Rajapaksa. “Some decades back we had some sort of aggression in our side and we wanted to create those moments again. As a unit we are doing fantastically well at the moment and we look forward to the World Cup.”
Rajapaksa said: “As a nation it’s a great win with all the crisis happening back home, these are tough times for Sri Lankans. We hope we brought some smiles on their faces.”
The cricket-crazy nation’s triumph in the Asia Cup came after dreadful months of severe economic crises, which were followed by blackouts, fuel shortages, and riots.
— Sri Lanka Cricket 🇱🇰 (@OfficialSLC) September 11, 2022
But before they can play the giants in the main draw beginning on October 22, Sri Lanka must first compete in the qualifications in Australia. However, captain Dasun Shanaka believes their momentum will carry them through.
Babar Azam, the captain of Pakistan, won the toss and decided to field first because the teams chasing had won nine out of the previous 12 games.
However, Sri Lanka defied the trend by defeating Pakistan’s quicks Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf after they bowled an amazing opening spell.
“I want to congratulate Sri Lanka. Outstanding cricket. The way we dominated them early, their partnership after that was outstanding,” said Azam.
The innings rebuilt by Rajapaksa and Hasaranga, who frequently hit boundaries to increase the scoring rate.
For his 50th T20 wicket, Rauf caught behind Hasaranga, who smashed five fours. And one six in his 21-ball inning, to end the precarious partnership.
Rajapaksa persisted in attacking and quickly reached his third T20 half-century as Shadab Khan dropped a ball in the deep.
In his 45-ball blitz, Rajapaksa closed the innings with a four and a six off Naseem. And he added 54 runs with Chamika Karunaratne to raise the total.
“Of course it is a wonderful moment. And also one of the best innings I played in a short period of time,” Rajapaksa, who made his T20 debut in 2019, said.
“Hoping I could play some match-winning knocks in the future as well for the Sri Lanka side.”
With a no-ball and four wides to start his opening over. Left-arm quick Dilshan Madushanka Dilshan Madushanka had a shaky start.
Madushan, who was just playing his second T20, bowled Fakhar Zaman for a first-ball duck. After having Azam caught at short fine-leg for five.
Iftikhar Ahmed (32) and Mohammad Rizwan (55), who together scored 71 runs, were eventually dismissed by Madushan.
With 282, Rizwan eclipsed India’s Virat Kohli as the tournament’s leading run-getter. However, after reaching his fifty with a six off Chamika Karunaratne. He soon bowled by Hasaranga’s leg-spin, which put an end to the chase.
Rauf dismissed by Karunaratne with the penultimate ball, setting off celebrations throughout Sri Lanka.
“We didn’t finish the way we would’ve wanted to,” said Azam. “But there are lots of positives from the tournament.”