Sri Lanka Pakistan
Captain Dasun Shanaka of Sri Lanka and Babar Azam of Pakistan Image Credit: Gulf News

Dubai: Sri Lanka has turned the Asia Cup around. As hosts, they painfully allowed the tournament to be moved from their shores due to the political unrest and financial crisis in their country. Cricket was still active in the country as the Sri Lankans played a few home series before arriving in the UAE.

Lacking confidence, missing home support and familiar conditions, the Sri Lankans faced an early exit from the tournament after losing to Afghanistan: they were bowled out for a paltry 104. With their backs to the wall, Sri Lanka pulled off a thrilling win against Bangladesh and qualified for the Super 4. Since then, there has been no looking back.

Early signs of revival

The young team managed to soak up the pressure and showed that they are still a force to reckon with in world cricket. The early signs of resurgence came at home against the Australians, but their record away is not great in recent times.

The win against Afghanistan in the Super 4 must have boosted the islanders’ confidence as they followed it up with a fine win over India in another close match.

Sri Lanka have the bowling to test the batters in the UAE, but their batting was a worry. However, Kusal Mendis and Pathum Nissanka ensured that they got a good start against India and contributions from Bhanuka Rajapaksa and skipper Dasun Shanaka helped them down India.

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Sri Lanka face a big test against Pakistan in the final Super 4 contest at Dubai International Stadium on Friday, which is a dress rehearsal for Sunday’s final.

Pakistan are high on confidence after two close wins against India and Afghanistan. Their batting runs deep, as evident from Naseem Shah’s consecutive sixes in the final over to beat the Afghans and book Pakistan a place in the final.

Pakistan’s batting is led by the gritty Mohammad Rizwan and skipper Babar Azam. The two lead the Twenty20 world rankings, and they will lead Pakistan’s charge against Sri Lanka.