Pakistan were outclassed by Sri Lanka in the final of Asia Cup 2022 by 23 runs on Sunday (September 11) at the Dubai International Stadium. Batting first, Sri Lanka got off to shaky start losing 5 wickets in eight overs. But they made a strong comeback to post a total of 170/6. Chasing the target, Pakistan's top batters, especially Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman were sent to pavilion on consecutive deliveries. And the middle order failed once again to perform at a big stage. The team was bundled out for 147 in 20 overs.
After winning the toss Pakistan had opted to field first, which has now become a norm in T20 cricket. Especially at the Dubai International Stadium, teams chasing the target have the history of winning the matches. But Pakistan's inefficient batting turned things sour for the team. When Pakistan lost Iftikhar Ahmed, things started to change quickly. And within four overs, Sri Lanka were on top.
How Pakistan lost the plot to Sri Lanka:
1. Babar Azam's early dismissal: In the final, Pakistan skipper Babar Azam was dismissed at 5 by Pramod Madushan. In fact, Azam's form throughout the Asia Cup had been poor. In the six matches he played, Pakistan's top batter could score only 68 runs at a strike rate of 107.93. His best was 30 against Sri Lanka in the Super 4 game.
2. Fakhar Zaman's first ball dismissal: Fakhar Zaman was dismissed on the first ball he played. He was bowled by Pramod Madhushan. An inside edge from his bat rattled the stumps. Zaman, who is one of the top batter of Pakistan, had struggled throughout the entire tournament. His last six scores in Asia Cup were 13, 5, 15, 53, 10 and 0. The left-handed batter could get only 96 runs in five innings at a strike rate of 105 and his average was below 20.
3. Mohammad Rizwan's slow innings: Mohammad Rizwan's slow knock of 55 off 49 balls didn't help Pakistan to build pressure on the Sri Lankan bowling unit. His run-a-ball approach in the first 10 overs eventually put the pressure on the middle order of Pakistan batting. His strike rate was just 126 in the final.
Pakistan were 100 in 14 overs, needing nearly 70 runs in last six overs and still Rizwan didn't start hitting big shots. It was only when Pakistan needed 60 in the last four overs that Rizwan started to get into action, but he was dismissed by Wanindu Hasaranga. By then, Sri Lanka were in the driver's seat.
After the dismissal of Rizwan, the team crumbled within 2 overs. Hasaranga got Asif Ali and Khusdil Shah in the same over and the entire middle order had collapsed by then.
4. Shadab Khan's misfieldings: Pakistan's allrounder had a terrible day on the field as he missed two crucial catches which proved fatal for Pakistan. In the 18th over, Shadab Khan dropped a catch when Hasaranga had mistimed a ball by Haris Rauf. And again in the next over, he gave a breather to Rajapaksa as he collided with Asif Ali at deep mid-wicket trying to a catch. The ball which slipped from Asif's hands went across the rope for a six. What could have been a wicket turned into a six. Hasaranga went on to hit 36 off 21 balls and gave Sri Lanka a strong total.
In the end, in a game where Pakistan looked dominant from the start, lost it in the last six overs. On the other hand, Sri Lanka quickly resurrected themselves after initial setbacks. At one point, Sri Lanka were 58/5 in eight overs as their top order collapsed in front of Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf. But the partnerhip between Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who smashed 71 off 45 balls and Wanindu Hasaranga got them back in the match.
Also, the bowling unit of Sri Lanka, especially Pramod Madhushan, Wanindu Hasaranga and Chamika Karunaratne took 4,3 and 2 wickets respectively to win the game for the team. Sri Lanka won their sixth Asia Cup title.