Hope we brought some smiles on faces of our people: Rajapaksa

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12 Sep 2022 | 05:55 AM
authorHardik Worah

Hope we brought some smiles on faces of our people: Rajapaksa

In the grand finale of the 2022 Asia Cup, Sri Lanka outclassed Pakistan in all facets of the game

We all know what’s happening in Sri Lanka, but on Sunday (September 11) in Dubai, Dasun Shanaka and his men gave their fans a reason to smile and celebrate. In the grand finale of the 2022 Asia Cup, Sri Lanka outclassed Pakistan in all facets of the game and clinched their sixth title.

At 58/5, Sri Lanka were in a spot of bother after being asked to bat first but Bhanuka Rajapaksa (45-ball 71*) and Wanindu Hasaranga (21-ball 36) staged a stunning comeback in the second half of the first innings and propelled their team to a total of 170. Their bowlers then did a commendable job in the second innings and bundled out Pakistan for 147.

"We always wanted to show the world - a couple of decades back, we had aggression in our side, and we wanted to create those moments (again) as a unit," Rajapaksa was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.

"Looking forward, we want to keep up this momentum ahead of the World Cup. With the crisis happening back home, this is a tough time for all the Sri Lankans, but hope we brought some smiles on the faces of our people. This is to the whole nation; they were waiting for this for so long."

Talking about his knock, the left-hander said: "Of course, it's a wonderful moment and one of the best innings that I've played in a very short period of time."

Sri Lanka were hammered by Afghanistan in the tournament-opener and then somehow managed to get the better of Bangladesh to make it through to the Super Four. That victory over Bangladesh gave them huge confidence and Sri Lanka never looked back thereafter. They defeated Afghanistan and India and then toppled Pakistan twice to win the title.

"After that first loss, we had a serious discussion. We knew we had the talent, but it was about applying those in game scenarios and all the players stood up. It's the environment we created as a team and coaching staff that has paid off,” said Sri Lankan skipper Shanaka.

"Before coming to the game, we knew that 170 would be a good score on this wicket because of the bowling we've got. As I mentioned earlier, we've got that variety in our line-up. It's always tough to chase 170 in a final. There's some mental aspect to it as well. I think the last six that Bhanu hit was special as well."

Shanaka led the side brilliantly throughout the competition. If and when needed, the all-rounder delivered both with the bat and ball and also made some pretty good tactical calls. In absence of Kasun Rajitha and Dushmantha Chameera, young Dilshan Madushanka and Pramod Madushan took care of the pace department. 

Left-arm paceman Madushanka was superb throughout the tournament, while Madushan picked up six wickets in the two matches he played. In the final, the latter claimed four wickets and broke the back of Pakistan’s batting line-up.

"Madushan brings promise, skill and maturity. We knew him from the start of his domestic career, but we had to take a risk to get the rewards. Madushan's skills were there (to see) and he's got a good career ahead. Glad he delivered in just his second game; glad he rewarded us for the risk we have taken (in picking him),” said Shanaka.

Sri Lanka might have won the Asia Cup but they still need to play the Qualifiers if they want to feature in the T20 World Cup later this year. Shanaka feels this win could turn things around for Sri Lanka.

"Even two-three years back, the team used to play good cricket, but the winning factor wasn't there. This could be the turnaround in our cricket, this lot can continue to play for five-six years, which is a very good sign as well."

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Pakistan vs Sri LankaAsia Cup, 2022Sri LankaBhanuka RajapaksaDasun Shanaka

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