In our review of the 15th edition of the Asia Cup which was won by Sri Lanka, we take a look at some of the top performers from the tournament:
Sri Lanka achieved the fairy tale ending to the 2022 Asia Cup that they would’ve dreamed of by beating Pakistan in the final on Sunday to win their first major title in eight years.
On a day when they lost the toss and had suffered a batting collapse early in the innings, the Sri Lankans once again displayed the kind of resilience that had helped them reel off four wins in a row after getting outplayed by Afghanistan in their opening game of the tournament.
Propelled by Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s unbeaten 71, the Sri Lankans ended up posting 170/6 after being reduced to 58/5 at one stage. Pakistan, in reply, lost the wickets of Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman upfront, but remained hopeful as in-form wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan led a revival along with Iftikhar Ahmed.
Pakistan, however, couldn’t quite keep up with the required run rate, and eventually succumbed to the pressure — losing wickets in a heap from a relatively comfortable position of 93/2 to get bowled out for 147, giving Sri Lanka their sixth Asian title.
The Lankan Lions had suffered a steep decline in their performances over the years since winning the Asia Cup as well as the ICC T20 World Cup in 2014 and had subsequently slid down the rankings in all three formats. Sunday’s result, however, would’ve reignited the pride in Sri Lankan cricket and their fans will have reason to believe that the dark days perhaps are behind them now.
In our review of the 15th edition of the Asia Cup, we take a look at some of the top performers from the tournament:
Pakistan wicketkeeper-batter Rizwan continued his fine run of form as he finished as the leading run-scorer in the tournament with 281 runs from six innings at an average and strike rate of 56.20 and 117.57 respectively.
Rizwan played a crucial part in Pakistan’s run to the final in a tournament especially when skipper Babar Azam and No 3 batter Fakhar Zaman struggled to make an impact with the bat, especially the former. His 71 against India in the Super Fours was perhaps his most crucial contribution as he kept the team’s hopes alive during the 182-run chase after losing Babar early in the innings, forging vital partnerships along the way.
Virat Kohli had taken an extensive break after the tour of England, skipping the tours of Zimbabwe and West Indies, and only returned to action in the Asia Cup. And the effect that his little vacation had on his mind as well as on his form was well evident in his shot-making and his confidence at the centre as the former India captain was back among the runs and appeared to have finally exorcised the demons that had been haunting him for quite some time.
Kohli finished second in the run-scorers list behind Rizwan, though by a margin of only five runs as he collected 276 runs across five innings at a superb average of 92 and a strike rate of 147.59. Most importantly, he ended a near-three-year wait for an international ton by smashing an unbeaten 122 against Afghanistan in India’s final match of the tournament.
Asia Cup 2022: From underdogs to champions — what worked for Sri Lanka
Wanindu Hasaranga had struggled in a couple of games during the tournament, and yet is among the key reasons behind Sri Lanka’s sixth Asia Cup victory as he played a crucial role in the business end of the tournament, especially in the final where he dished out an all-round performance (36 and 3/27) to be adjudged the Player of the Final.
Hasaranga’s consecutive three-fors in the last two games of the tournament – having collected 3/21 in the final Super 4 clash two days before the final — helped the star all-rounder finish second on the wicket-takers list with nine wickets to his name. And he was quite handy with the bat as well — his 66 runs in the tournament came at a strike rate of 150.
It would be safe to say that Afghanistan are slowly starting to shed the minnows tag in limited-overs cricket, especially in the T20I format, as they punched above their weight in the Asia Cup, beating both eventual champions Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to become the first team to qualify for the Super 4s.
Ibrahim Zadran’s 64* is the highest T20I score by an Afghanistan batter against India.
— Kausthub Gudipati (@kaustats) September 9, 2022
And though they failed to reach the final, finishing at the bottom of the Super 4 table, they can take heart from the way the bowlers clicked as a unit as well as some of the individual performers, especially Ibrahim Zadran, who finished the third-highest run-scorer behind Rizwan and Kohli. Zadran finished with 196 runs in five appearances at a superb average of 65.33, shining with an unbeaten 64 in their final match against India to go with a couple of 40s and a 35 against Pakistan.
Despite getting hammered in the penultimate over in consecutive defeats, both while defending fairly competitive totals, Bhuvneshwar Kumar ended up finishing on top of the leading wicket-takers list with 11 scalps to his name, including the only five-for of the tournament.
The two horror 19th overs against Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the Super 4s will have dented his reputation as a death overs specialist though it doesn’t quite put his spot in the T20 World Cup squad in danger yet.
Bhuvi, however, did end up redeeming himself for those two forgettable performances with a dream spell of 4-1-4-5 in India’s final game of the tournament against Afghanistan.
Earlier in the tournament, he had played a key role in India’s five-wicket win over Pakistan in their opening game with a haul of 4/26 that helped bowl Pakistan out for 147.
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