DUBAI: Sri Lanka defeated Pakistan by 23 runs on Sunday to win their sixth Asia Cup title at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Bhanuka Rajapaksa led the way with a magnificent knock of 71 runs before Sri Lankan bowlers displayed combined effort to defy the toss factor and defended 171 runs in the final against Pakistan to lift their sixth Asia Cup title.
Batting first on the invitation from Pakistan captain Babar Azam, Sri Lanka managed to finish at a commendable 170-6 in the allotted 20 overs, thanks to the gritty and anchoring knock of Rajapaksa, who remained unbeaten with his 71.
The hosts had a poor start to their inning as the side lost two wickets at a paltry 23 as Pakistan pacers Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf removed both openers Kusal Mendis and Pathum Nissanka cheaply for a duck and eight respectively.
All-rounder Dhananjaya de Silva attempted to take on Pakistan bowlers and scored at a decent pace for his important knock of 28 runs off 21 deliveries, laced with four boundaries.
Sri Lankan captain Dasun Shanaka had a forgetful outing with the bat as Shadab Khan castled the right-handed batter for a mere two and Sri Lanka, as a result, slipped to 58/5 in the ninth over.
Sri Lanka’s hero with the bat Rajapaksa then joined hands with Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva and scripted an astounding recovery for his side in the final. The pair turned the dimension of the game with a brilliant 58-run partnership for the sixth wicket.
Haris struck in the 15th over to provide a much-needed breakthrough to Pakistan as he removed Hasaranga, courtesy of a caught-behind. He chipped with a valiant cameo of 36 off 21 deliveries with the help of five boundaries and a six.
Hasaranga’s departure did not bother Rajapaksa much as he held his ground firm and kept the scoreboard ticking with assistance from Chamika Karunaratne, who scored a run-a-ball 14.
Rajapaksa top-scored for Sri Lanka in the final with a magnificent knock of 71 off 45 deliveries including six boundaries and three sixes.
Haris led the bowling attack for Pakistan with three wickets, while Naseem, Shadab, and Iftikhar Ahmed made one scalp each.
In pursuit of a competitive 171-run target, Pakistan lost Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman early, but Mohammad Rizwan and Iftikhar Ahmed’s 61-run partnership kept Pakistan in the running.
However, left with too many runs for the final overs, Pakistan collapsed and were eventually dismissed for 147 runs in 20 overs.