Sri Lanka defeated Pakistan by 23 runs in the final of the Asia Cup 2022 on Sunday to lift their sixth title and cap off an incredible tournament. The Lankans rode on a terrific all-round performance from Wanindu Hasaranga and a brilliant knock from Bhanuka Rajapaksa to shatter Pakistan’s hopes of lifting the prestigious trophy.
Pakistan won the toss and opted to bowl first in the summit clash before getting off to a flying start as they reduced Sri Lanka to 58/5 inside nine overs. However, Rajapaksa (71) combined with Hasaranga (36) to steer his team to a fighting total of 170 runs.
Hasaranga continued his dream run as he picked up three wickets while pacer Pramod Madushan bagged a four-wicket haul to bundle out Pakistan for 147 runs in 20 overs and secure a comprehensive win for their country. It was a disappointing batting effort from Pakistan as their middle-order crumbled under pressure.
The top-order flopped too as both Babar Azam (5) and Fakhar Zaman (0) departed cheaply in the final. Opener Mohammad Rizwan scored 55 runs in the final and tried to keep Pakistan in the game but he failed to do so and was widely criticised for his poor strike rate in the 171-run chase.
Rizwan managed 55 runs off 49 balls at a strike rate of 112.24 which cost Pakistan the game as they fell short in the run chase. Among those who were critical of Rizwan’s approach was the legendary Wasim Akram as he bashed the opening batter for his slow scoring rate.
Akram pointed out Rizwan had batted similarly against Hong Kong earlier in the tournament and revealed he was attacked on social media by fans for calling out the Pakistan batter over his performance. The legendary cricketer said insisted he is not someone who can sing false praise of someone who isn’t performing well.
“At the beginning of the tournament, I had said that the openers won’t mess up but struggle in games like these. That’s exactly what happened today,” said Akram on Star Sports after Pakistan’s loss in the final.
“He (Rizwan) had done the same thing against Hong Kong if you remember. I criticised him, which was healthy criticism. And people attacked me on social media. Pakistan people said that I don’t support Rizwan. If you want my opinion, I will give you the right and straightforward opinion. I am not the guy who will lie about what I see. Black is black and white is white for me,” he added.
As much as Pakistan batters deserve to be blamed for their poor show, Sri Lankan bowlers should be credited for producing a brilliant effort with the ball to bundle out the Pakistan team for 147. Madushan and Hasaranga combined to run through the top and the middle-order while Chamika Karunaratne also chipped in with two wickets.