This was a dress rehearsal for the Asia Cup final, and in its own way, it offered a tactical insight into what the teams could try come Sunday. On a sweltering evening in Dubai, thanks to a cocktail of smart bowling changes and an egregious batting display, Sri Lanka beat Pakistan by five wickets in the last Asia Cup 2022 Super 4 match in Dubai on Friday.
Defending 121, Haris Rauf and Mohammad Hasnain reduced Sri Lanka to 29 for three in five overs. Opener Pathum Nissanka provided a release when he collected a brace of boundaries in each of Hasan Ali’s first two overs, which went for 21. Hasan was playing his first match of this Asia Cup.
Left-hander Bhanuka Rajapaksa then aced the matchup against leggie Usman Qadir when he smote him for two sixes to take Sri Lanka to 68 for three at the halfway stage. Rajapaksa was out soon after, but Nissanka’s unbeaten 55 got Sri Lanka home with 18 balls to spare.
Earlier, Pakistan batters scrapped on a pitch that had now been used twice in as many nights. Sizing up the tactical match-ups, Dasun Shanaka deployed off-spinners Maheesh Theekshana (two for 21) and Dhananjaya de Silva (one for 18), replacing Charith Asalanka, against the Pakistan left-handers and leggie Wanindu Hasaranga (three for 21) against the right-handers. All the Sri Lankan spinners went for under six an over and took six wickets between them.
The tone was set early by debutant pacer Pramod Madushan, who got Mohammad Rizwan caught in the fourth over. Captain Babar Azam was batting on 30 off 29 when he was clean-bowled by Hasaranga. In between, Fakhar Zaman was caught trying to upper-cut Chamika Karunaratne. With Pakistan 74 for three in 11 overs, Shanaka unleashed his carousel of spinners in tandem to hasten the end and set up a thumping win.