Pakistan will take on Sri Lanka in the grand finale of the Asia Cup 2022 tournament in Dubai on Sunday, September 11, at 7:30 PM IST.
The two teams locked horns in the last Super 4 encounter on Friday and Sri Lanka emerged victorious in that. So the Lankans have the momentum while coming into this high-pressure game whereas Pakistan will need to regroup once again.
Can Pakistan bounce back to claim the ultimate glory?
Pakistan won’t be that confident entering this contest as the last two matches haven’t gone according to their plan. Without any significant contributions from Mohammad Rizwan, their batting has got completely exposed in the last two games. They almost lost to Afghanistan, where they were saved by Naseem Shah’s last over heroics, and suffered a pretty heavy loss to Sri Lanka as well.
The middle-order hasn’t really stepped up. Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam’s form has been very concerning as the duo have struggled a lot in this tournament. While the lower middle-order batters have played some useful cameos in previous games, they haven’t managed to step up when they were needed. But there will be no room for error in this final encounter, and Pakistan will have to come up with a solid batting plan and execution.
Can Sri Lanka carry the momentum forward?
Dasun Shanaka and his men have surprised everyone with their performance. They were the least favourites to win the title when the Asia Cup started, but they have justified their place in the final with the way they have performed. They have beaten tournament favourites like India, Pakistan and Afghanistan already and that must have given them immense confidence to carry on and claim the title of Sunday.
Their performance in the last three games has been particularly eye-catching, where they have pulled off one tricky chase after another. However, they largely remain untested when batting first. The only time they did so in the tournament, they suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Afghanistan. Shanaka has won the toss in all of the previous three matches so far and that could be a crucial factor in the final as well.
Pakistan have played 5 matches in this tournament, winning thrice and losing twice. Their losses came in their opening encounter against India and the previous Super 4 clash against Sri Lanka.
The Lankan team hasn’t lost any match since losing their first game of the tournament to Afghanistan. They have won 4 matches on the trot and will be eyeing their fifth one here, that will help them lift the Asia Cup.
Possible Playing XIs
Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Babar Azam (c), Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Asif Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hasnain, Naseem Shah
Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis (wk), Charith Asalanka, Danushka Gunathilaka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Dasun Shanaka (c), Wanindu Hasaranga, Chamika Karunaratne, Maheesh Theekshana, Asitha Fernando, Dilshan Madushanka
Players to Watch
The all-rounder will be very improved to Pakistan’s chances of winning this match. He has already shown his batting ability once, delivering a match-winning knock of 36 against Afghanistan, and there is no doubt over his bowling ability either as he is one of the best spinners in this format.
Sri Lankan batters are also known for struggling against leg-spinners of late. As far as Shadab’s bowling record in this Asia Cup goes, he has picked up seven wickets at an average of 12.14.
The Sri Lankan skipper is nowhere near the top run-scorers in this tournament. And he isn’t supposed to be there either as he bats at No.6 mostly. However, he has been a reliable asset for Sri Lanka in tricky situations.
Shanaka has delivered consistently in difficult situations and has amassed 109 runs in this Asia Cup, at a good average of 27.25 and an excellent strike-rate of 141.55.
Pakistan were one of the favourites to win the title when this Asia Cup started. But, as the tournament has gone deeper, many problems have started surfacing and that could haunt them in the final as well. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, have played like the team to beat in this competition. They have momentum on their side having won all of their last four matches and they will be aiming for the ultimate prize here.