WELL WON::Even in the desert sands, Dasun Shanaka’s men felt at home and during Sunday’s final at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Sri Lanka defied the odds to defeat Pakistan by 23 runs. -THE HINDU


Originally pencilled in as the host, it was fitting that Sri Lanka won the Asia Cup even if the championship was held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The debilitating economic crisis in the island-nation meant that Sri Lanka had to shift the continental tournament’s base to the UAE but even in the desert sands, Dasun Shanaka’s men felt at home.

And during Sunday’s final at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Sri Lanka defied the odds to defeat Pakistan by 23 runs.

In a tournament where teams chasing have often prevailed, Sri Lanka was struggling at 58 for five before a rear-guard action from Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Wanindu Hasaranga meant that the eventual champion posted 170 for six in 20 overs. It was not a steep target but summit clashes unleash excess pressure and Pakistan failed to get past the wily Sri Lankans.

Seamer Pramod Madushan’s four wickets and spinner Hasaranga’s all-round turn with three scalps, meant that Pakistan wound up at 147. It may have been despair for Babar Azam’s men but there is no mistaking the overall joy that both the finalists gifted to their respective fans.

If Sri Lanka is yet to get over its financial issues back home, Pakistan is struggling with severe floods that have affected lives and struck at its economy. Surely, cricket offered some cheer.

If Sri Lanka lost its first game against Afghanistan and yet lasted the distance and won the title, the reverse happened for India. In the preliminary rounds Rohit Sharma’s men dominated; however, in the super-four stage, India succumbed to both Pakistan and Sri Lanka and even if Afghanistan was quelled, the exit door remained open.

Having won the Asia Cup on seven occasions, the latest edition offered a sobering note to India. The top order troika of Rohit, K.L. Rahul and Virat Kohli need to fire in unison. Even if Kohli ended his century-drought with a ton against Afghanistan, his return to form was muddled with angst-laden quotes in a press conference, where he spoke about his last days of national captaincy.

A Kohli scoring runs is essential, but equally, India needs the former skipper to forget past grouses. In a year where even the Asia Cup, a traditional ODI tournament, acquired a T20 garb all because of the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia from October 16 to November 13, it is disconcerting that the Indian playing eleven remains a work in progress.

The squad for the premier event was announced on Monday and it is good that spearhead Jasprit Bumrah, having recovered from his injury, is back while the injured Ravindra Jadeja misses out. The forthcoming T20Is against the visiting Australians and South Africans should help the management in fine-tuning its plans.

Courtesy:The Hindu