Forget the pundits, Sri Lanka are no pushovers at World T20 | Sunday Observer
Review on one of the greatest underdog comebacks in cricket history:

Forget the pundits, Sri Lanka are no pushovers at World T20

16 October, 2022
The ball of the tournament. India’s Virat Kohli is bowled by Dilshan Madushanka
The ball of the tournament. India’s Virat Kohli is bowled by Dilshan Madushanka

More than a month has passed but still warm to the victory of Asia Cup 2022 tripping through the veins of Sri Lankans. A memorable tournament a hard-fought victory and a spirited team effort that will go into the history book of Sri Lankan cricket as one of the most famous triumphs in their cricketing legacy. Now let’s have a look at what happened.

After losing hosting rights of the tournament, Sri Lanka made their way to Dubai to challenge teams for the Asia Cup 2022.

In the context of players Sri Lanka used and the team combination, Sri Lanka went across the whole tournament with a similar combination of players and that paid off in the end for them to maintain the momentum and consistency to increase team bond and synchronization where the whole team played as one unit with better communication and chemistry among them.

All the players chipped in with some vital performances across the tournament especially the key players who contributed as much as they all turned out to be decisive to win most of the games.

Senior players such as Wanindu Hasaranga who was named the man of the tournament, Kusal Mendis, Bhanuka Rajapakse the highest run scorer for Sri Lanka in the tournament and captain Dasun Shanaka made some vital performances to lay the groundwork for Sri Lanka’s 6th Asia Cup triumph.

As the seniors did their part it can be said the young guns were the x-factor for Sri Lanka this time around in the Asia Cup. These newfound heroes the likes of Dilshan Madushanka and Pramod Madushan did an absolutely splendid job by holding their own and taking the responsibility on their shoulders and doing the job that was required of them perfectly.

Tournament Progress

Sri Lanka teamed up with Afghanistan and Bangladesh in group B for the Asia Cup 2022 group stage matches while India, Pakistan and Hong Kong were in group A. Sri Lanka got on to a nightmare of starts in the tournament where they suffered a heavy loss against Afghanistan on the opening day of the tournament. It was an epic failure from the whole team where both batting and bowling units were easily dominated by Afghanistan to draft themselves a historic victory.

After the disastrous start to the Asia Cup campaign, Sri Lanka made a comeback against Bangladesh to keep their hopes alive in the tournament where they beat the latter with a stemming all-around performance by the whole team. Especially the batting department showed tremendous depth in their capabilities where the whole lineup contributed to the run chase to seal the deal. Kusal Mendis top scored with 60 runs off 37 deliveries while a captain’s knock of 45 off 33 balls from Dasun Shanaka empowered the run chase and it was Asitha Fernando the late hero for Sri Lankans whose little cameo of 10 off 3 balls ensured that Sri Lanka got over the line.

After getting through the group stage, it was Super 4 round in which no one bet their odds for Sri Lanka to qualify to the final by any means. But after some classy performances, it was Sri Lanka who came on top by topping the table by beating all three of their opponents in the Super 4.

The first game in the Super 4 was between Sri Lanka and Afghanistan which became a closely fought contest where Sri Lanka finally came on top to seal the deal to start their Super 4 round with a victory. It was a victory won over by a complete team effort where the whole batting lineup chipped in with some important runs to take Sri Lanka over the winning line where likes of Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis, Danushka Gunathilaka and Bhanuka Rajapakse made some solid runs for Sri Lanka in the chase to win it with five bowls to spare.

The second game Sri Lanka had in the Super 4s was against mighty India who had greater odds as favorites to win the Asia Cup this year, but defying all the odds it was Sri Lanka that came on top and won the game with another great team effort where first the Lankan bowling unit made a tremendous effort to restrict the free-flowing Indian batting line up to a sub-par score of 173 in which the youngster Dilshan Madushanka made his mark by taking three important wickets for 24 runs in four overs which included the wicket of Indian main man Virat Kohli where he fell for a duck against Madushanka.The chase was led by the bats of Kusal Mendis and Pathum Nissanka with an elegant opening partnership that laid the platform for Dasun Shanaka and Bhanuka Rajapakse to finish off the game in a victories manner which booked Sri Lanka’s place in the final.

The final game Sri Lanka had in the Super 4 was against in-form Pakistan. This game was a pre-finale because at that time both Pakistan and Sri Lanka were in the final thanks to their epic Super 4 performances. It was a one-side game from the beginning where the Sri Lankans dominated Pakistan in both batting and bowling departments to seal off an easy victory for the island nation. Wanindu Hasaranga bowled an excellent spell to return with 3 for 21 in his four overs where Pramod Madshan and Maheesh Theekshana both captured two wickets each for 21 runs in their respective spells. It was Pathum Nissanka who played the anchor role in the Sri Lankan chase by scoring an undefeated 55 runs to seal the game for his team.

The final

Another interesting display of good cricket was played between two Asian giants Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Even Sri Lanka was victorious in the previous encounter though odds favored Pakistan to clinch the title due to their strong and experienced lineup and the odds got, even more, stronger when Pakistan won the toss and elected to bowl first because it was known that the chasing team has a better chance of winning a game in Sharjah. After asking them to bat first Sri Lanka made a miserable start to their innings by losing five wickets for 58 runs in eight overs. But Sri Lanka made a terrific recovery thanks to a memorable knock from Bhanuka Rajapakse and a helping hand from Wanindu Hasaranga who kept Sri Lanka on course to post a challenging total of 170 in the final to keep their title hopes alive.

Pakistan’s innings was opened by their in-form batter and the highest scorer in the tournament Mohammed Rizwan and their captain Babar Azam. After a top-order collapse, it was Rizwan and Iftikhar who made a recovery to keep Pakistan in the game but with their fall it was all about Sri Lanka. In the bowling department, it was Pramod Madushan and Wanindu Hasaranga who were the star bowlers this time where Pramod captured 4 wickets for 34 runs while Wanindu Hasaranga took 3 wickets for 27 runs including the wicket of the all-important Mohammad Rizwan who threatened to take the game away. But after all, Pakistan fell 23 runs short which sealed the sixth Asian Cup title for Sri Lanka in its history.