Summary: Fourth win in a row for Sri Lanka
Pathum Nissanka’s half-century was the cornerstone of Sri Lanka’s five-wicket win over Pakistan in the final Super 4 match between the finalists of the DP World Asia Cup at the Dubai International Stadium on Friday (September 9).
Chasing a target of 122, the opener dropped anchor and scored a patient unbeaten 55 off 48 balls, while the rest of the batters played aggressively to ensure that the Sri Lankans entered the final on a positive note.
After a disastrous start to the tournament, losing badly in the opener, Sri Lanka have maintained a clean slate, winning matches against Bangladesh, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. An impressive feat from the islanders, who saw the tournament shifted from home due to the political crisis.
Sri Lanka’s chase got off to a poor start when the in-form opener Kusal Mendis was out to the second ball of the innings. Danushka Gunathilaka and Dhananjaya de Silva followed soon. A crucial 44-run partnership between Nissanka and Bhanuka Rajapaksa and another 33 with skipper Dasun Sanaka took Sri Lanka closer to the target.
Earlier, an inspired bowling led by Wanindu Hasaranga and backed by brilliant fielding did not allow Pakistan to score runs feely. Around the halfway mark, skipper Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman were dismissed in quick succession and that pushed Pakistan on the backfoot. They kept losing wickets and were all out for 121 in 19.2 overs.
Nissanka stabilises Sri Lankan chase
Pathum Nissanka found an able partner in Bhanuka Rajapaksa, and the two have put on a 44-run partnership to haul Sri Lanka back on track. Rajapaksa, who survived a sharp stumping chance, kept chancing his arm and finally hit straight to mid-wicket off Usman Qadir. With just 42 runs in 8.4 overs, Rajapaksa could have been a bit cautious, especially with Nissanka hitting a six two balls earlier. Nissanka’s presence gives Sri Lanka a sense of stability in their chase, his wicket is crucial for Pakistan. After 12 overs, Sri Lanka are 83 for 4, needing another 39 off 48 balls. Nissanka is batting on 47.
Sri Lanka’s chase falters
Chasing a small target is always tricky, but the key to achieving it is patience. The longer the batters stay at the wicket, the bowling team will be under pressure.
With an asking rate of almost run a ball, Sri Lanka got off to a bad start, losing the in-form Kusal Mendis off the second ball, and Danushka Gunathilaka and Dhananjaya de Silva all followed in the same fashion. Opener Pathum Nissanka is playing an anchor role, and the rest should bat around the left-hander. After six overs, Sri Lanka are 37 for 3.
Mid-innings summary: Sri Lanka need 122 to win
Sri Lanka have restricted Pakistan to an under-par 121 in the final Super 4 match of the DP World Asia Cup at the Dubai International Stadium on Friday (September 9).
Sri Lankan bowlers were spot on in varying their length and pace, and did not give room and pace for the Pakistan batters to launch an attack. The excellent bowling was backed by some brilliant fielding.
The 35-run second-wicket partnership between skipper Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman was the highest and once the pair was dismissed, pressure mounted as runs were difficult to come by.
The pressure finally caught up with Pakistan near the half-way mark, as Zaman and Azam were dismissed in consecutive overs. Sri Lanka assumed total control with Wanindu Hasaranga claiming two wickets in one over, backed by Dhananjaya de Silva and Maheesh Theekshana.
Apart from the top three, the only other major contribution came from Mohammad Nawaz before Pakistan were all out for 121 with five balls still left in the innings.
After having done half the job well, Sri Lanka need a good start from openers Kusal Mendis and Pathum Nissanka to ensure they reach the target of 122.
Sri Lanka claim four wickets in three overs
Two wickets in two balls by Wanindu Hasaranga has strengthened Sri Lanka’s hold on the match. Ifthikar Ahmed ended a long wait for a boundary, the previous one was a four wide. That shows the control the Sri Lankan bowlers had on the match. They have not given any room or pace for Pakistan to find their timing and the bowling was backed by good fielding. A great catch, the skier well judged by Pathum Nissanka, to dismiss Khushdil Shah triggered the slide, with three wickets coming in two overs. After 16 overs, Pakistan are 95/7, losing four wickets in three overs.
Two quick wickets boost Sri Lanka
Runs are hard to come by and the loss of Fakhar Zaman and skipper Babar Azam has given the Sri Lankan bowling a big boost. Sri Lanka should try and restrict Pakistan to 140-150. With two new batters around, Sri Lankan spinners should fancy their chances. Still they have manged to keep the Pakistan batters quiet. After 12 overs, Pakistan are 78/3.
Tidy bowling by Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan bowlers have tried their best to arrest the run flow and managed to get the wicket of the dangerous Mohammad Rizwan, the skier caught by the wicketkeeper, to give debutant Pramod Madushan his maiden Twenty20 international wicket. So far the Sri Lankan bowlers have stuck to the plan and not allowed any easy runs on a wicket that is not easy for strokeplay. After 7 overs, Pakistan are 53/1.
The toss and the teams
Sri Lankan skipper Dasun Shanaka won the toss and elected to bowl first.
Sri Lanka have made two changes to the squad: Dhananjaya de Silva comes in for Charith Asalanka, and debutant Pramod Madushan replaces Asitha Fernando.
Pakistan also have made two changes: Shadab Khan, man of the match in the previous game against Afghanistan, is injured while Naseem Shah has been rested. Usman Qadir and Hasan Ali will play today.
Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper), Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmad, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Nawaz, Asif Ali, Hassan Ali, Haris Rauf, Usman Qadir and Mohammad Hasnain.
Sri Lanka: Dasun Shanaka (captain), Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis (wicketkeeper), Dhananjaya de Silva, Danushka Gunathilaka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Wanindu Hasaranga, Maheesh Theekshana, Chamika Karunaratne, Dilshan Madushanka and Pramod Madushan.
Preview: Spinners expected to play a big role
Dubai: Sri Lanka and Pakistan have good bowling options and spinners could play a big role in the final Super 4 match of the DP World Asia Cup at the Dubai International Stadium on Friday (September 9).
The second-day pitch, used by Afghanistan and India, wears a dry look and should help the bowlers. Toss could be vital as batting second will be easy on this pitch, as usual.