Pakistan and Sri Lanka will meet in the final of the Asia Cup for the fourth time on Sunday, September 11th at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. The match is scheduled to begin at 6 pm local time.
It is an instant rematch of their Super Four meeting on Friday at the same stadium, which Sri Lanka won convincingly by five wickets.
The path to the final
Pakistan began with an opening loss to their old enemy India in what was a tight finish, but then bounced back by thumping the group minnows Hong Kong to qualify as runners-up in Group A.
Their first match in the Super Four stage was against India again, and this time they exacted revenge, although again it went down to the final over.
Afghanistan looked like they were going to upset them in their next game, but a dramatic last wicket partnership saw them over the line.
That made the final group game against the Sri Lankans academic, as they had already qualified for the final which, under the circumstances, was just as well.
Sri Lanka also began the tournament with a loss, suffering a heavy defeat to Afghanistan in the opening match of the tournament. Few at that stage would have given them much hope of going far in the competition, but they too responded with a good win over Bangladesh, finishing runners-up in Group B.
And, in the Super Four stage of the competition they have really found their stride, turning the tables on the Afghans, upsetting the tournament favourites India, and then laying down an early marker against Pakistan.
This will be the first final between the two in the T20I format in the Asia Cup. The other three were all ODIs.
Sri Lanka won on home soil in Colombo in 1986 by 5 wickets, but it was Pakistan’s turn in Dhaka in 2000, where they secured a 39 run victory.
Their most recent final encounter was also in Bangladesh, but in Mirpur this time, in 2014, with Sri Lanka winning by five wickets.
T20I Head to head record
Although Pakistan have won 13 of the previous 21 T20Is between the two sides, it is Sri Lanka who have won their last three meetings, including on Friday.
In that match Pakistan were put in to bat, but bowled out for just 121 in the final over of their innings, with Wanindu Hasaranga taking 3 – 21, and Maheesh Theekshana and Pramod Madushan both taking 2 – 21.
Sri Lanka lost three early wickets in their reply, but guided by opener Pathum Nissanka who made 55, they were able to cruise to victory with three overs to spare.
By his own standards, Mohammad Rizwan had a comparatively quiet match on Friday, making just 14, but his form in this tournament so far has been so good he has displaced his team-mate Babar Azam at the top of the ICC T20I batter rankings. Pakistan need him to produce once more.
Perhaps not wanting to show their hand too early, Pakistan left leg break bowler Shadab Khan out of Friday’s match, but he will surely play on Sunday, and his team will be hoping he can both take wickets and also help apply the brakes if the Sri Lankan scoring threatens to get out of hand.
Mendis was out for a first ball duck on Friday, but like Rizwan, his runs have had a large part to play in his team getting to the final. Another good innings would be a fine way to cap off what has been a good tournament for the Sri Lankan owner.
As anybody who watches the Indian T20 league knows, Hasaranga is an accomplished T20 bowler, and he proved that again on Friday. His four overs could have a big say on the outcome of the match.
After the first match in this year’s Asia Cup, many expected Sri Lanka to be heading home after the group stage. Not only have they come back from that in fine style, but they must now be considered favourites to win it for a sixth time.
Pakistan may have the better head to head record in T20I cricket, but Sri Lanka have won their last three meetings, including Friday’s convincing display.
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