Asia Cup 2022 (Final): Sri Lanka aiming for 6th title

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High riding Sri Lanka will aim for their sixth triumph when they take on Pakistan in the final of the Asia Cup 2022 today (11) at Dubai International Stadium. 

Ignoring the influence of the toss for a moment, Sri Lanka enter the final as slim favourites. The islanders are in tremendous form with Kusal Mendis, Dasun Shanaka and Bhanuka Rajapaksa all making big contributions throughout the tournament.

The only concern for the Lankans is their Vice Captain Charith Asalanka who had a poor run in the tournament so far. On the other hand, their openers are in supreme form and their bowlers are delivering time and again, more importantly, skipper Dasun Shanaka is leading from the front with both bat and ball.

Kusal Mendis is arguably the most talented batter in the Sri Lankan playing XI and will be crucial for their chances in the Asia Cup 2022. The 27-year-old elegant batter is a vital cog in the batting line-up. He scored only 2 off 4 balls against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup 2022 opening fixture before being the 1st wicket to fall after being a victim of MOM Fazalhaq Farooqi.

He scored a vital 60 off 37 balls against Bangladesh to see Sri Lanka scrape through to the Super 4 in their last Asia Cup 2022 group game. He top-scored for the islanders against Afghanistan in Sri Lanka’s first Super 4 match scoring 36 from only 19 balls at a Strike Rate of 189.47. He scored another fifty (57) off 37 balls in Sri Lanka’s win against defending champions India in the Super 4.

In order for Sri Lanka to put up a good show in Dubai, their openers should once again click. Coming into the big picture Sri Lanka would likely remain unchanged, which means three left-handed batters in the top six.

Sri Lanka have repeatedly shown that they can chase decent scores – the Lions have chased 170+ against India, Afghanistan and Bangladesh in their last three games. 

On paper they perhaps don’t match up, man for man, with Pakistan, but anything can happen in T20 cricket and Sri Lanka are a talented team on the rise, being coached by Chris Silverwood.

Meanwhile, Pakistan have a good record against Sri Lanka in Twenty-20 Internationals. The ‘Men in Green’ have won 13 and lost eight in 21 Twenty-20 International matches played against Sri Lanka n the shortest format of the game.

Pakistan’s pace trio of Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf and Mohammad Hasnain will have its task cut out in the Power Play. Sri Lanka has the second-best Power Play run rate (8.45) – behind Afghanistan (8.70) – in this tournament, with openers Kusal Mendis and Pathum Nissanka looking to wrest the early advantage with their flamboyant strokeplay. Early wickets inside the first six could put pressure on the Lankan middle-order.

 They’re the third -ranked T20 team in the world, and in opening pair Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, they have two of the most destructive T20i batters in world cricket. Rizwan is the top scoring player left in the tournament, but Pakistan’s batting hasn’t always clicked and Babar in particular is struggling for form. He’s managed just 33 runs in four innings and if his bad stretch continues, that certainly improves Sri Lanka’s odds.

Pakistan, ranked third in ICC rankings in Twenty-20, have won 120, lost 66, tied three and abandoned five in 194 matches played so far. Sri Lanka have won 72, lost 86, tied three and abandoned two in 163 matches played so far. They are ranked eighth in the latest ICC rankings.