Wanindu Hasaranga is a matchwinner. The genial Sri Lankan is more known as a superb exponent of leg spin. His classical blend of leg-breaks and googlies have reaped wickets and staunched runs in Twenty20 cricket. Little wonder, he's the trump card in the Sri Lankan bowling pack.
What's less known is his pinch-hitting skills. There were glimpses of his power-hitting in some matches when Sri Lanka chased down stiff targets. But the final required a different innings, one of patience since Sri Lanka were in dire straits at 58/5.
Hasaranga the batsman do not have the patience of Hasaranga the leggie. He tore into the Pakistan attack in the company of Bhanuka Rajapaksa as they added 58 in 36 deliveries. When Hasaranga departed after a 21-ball 36, Sri Lanka were well on the road to recovery, finishing at 170/6.
"When I went to bat, we were 60/5, so we planned that if we can score over 150, that is a good total. And I said that I will play my own role, so that's why I played my normal shots," Hasaranga told Star Sports.
Hasaranga was back in action when the Pakistan chase was stopped in its tracks by Promod Madushan's double strike in the powerplay. Pakistan fell behind the scoring rate, and Iftikhar Ahmed chose to take on Sri Lanka's strike bowler, and it paid dividends. He lashed a six and a four to take 14 off one Hasaranga over.
But Sri Lanka and Hasaranga were far from finished. Runs were hard to come by, and skipper Dasun Shanaka played his trump card. The situation was ripe for the leggie to unveil his bag tricks. He dismissed the dangerous and consistent Mohammad Rizwan (55 off 49 balls), Khushdil Shah and Shadab Khan in the 17th over.
Hasaranga's triple strike thrust the Babar Azam-led team towards defeat. There was no room for comebacks as Sri Lanka ran out worthy winners. The 23-run win gave Sri Lanka their sixth Asia Cup.
There was little surprise when Hasaranga was named Player of the Tournament. His performance throughout the tournament was consistent, and he always delivered when Shanaka turned to him for quick wickets or to keep the runs down.
"I love to bowl in the subcontinent. I like to bowl on the stumps; I think that helps me [to be] successful. I try to bowl without boundaries, so that's why I got three wickets in the last over today," Hasaranga said.