The 2022 Asia Cup ended on Sunday, with Sri Lanka thumping Pakistan to a 23-run defeat in the final to lift their 6th Asia Cup trophy. Before the tournament started, Dasun Shanaka and his men were the underdogs due to the economic and political unrest in the country. Besides Sri Lanka’s heroics, the tournament has seen several individual masterclass performances that caught the viewer’s eye. Sri Lanka’s heroes Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Wanindu Hasaranga, and Mahesh Theekshana stood head and shoulders above other players. The primary reason for it was their exposure to the Indian Premier League (IPL.) Rajapaksa plays for Punjab Kings, Theekshana for CSK, while Hasaranga lends his services to RCB. Nevertheless, the tournament witnessed some talents who rose to the limelight despite not playing in the IPL but can soon make their debut. Thus, the article will focus on five players who impressed in the Asia Cup and can be seen in the next IPL.
5. Pramod Madushan
Pramod Madushan was the star of the final with his 4/34 in four overs. The 28-year-old made his T20I debut against Pakistan on 9th September in the Super 4 stage of the tournament. In his debut match, he picked up two wickets, giving away 21 runs in two overs. He collected six wickets in two games, putting him on IPL owner’s radars. However, the right-arm seamer isn’t exposed to foreign leagues and rose to fame after playing in the Lankan Premier League for Dambulla Giants.
4. Babar Hayat
Babar has remained one of Hong Kong’s best players for a long time. The 30-year-old made his T20I debut in 2014 and has amassed 800 runs in his career, which includes a century and four fifties. Babar earned his spotlight against India in the group stage match. Batting first, the Men in Blue posed a target of 193. While everyone assumed it to be a walk in the park for the Indian side, Babar Hayat had other plans. He was the stand-out player for the team and looked in good touch. Babar scored a valuable 41 off 35 balls, with three fours and two sixes. Going by the innings and the number of eyeballs Babar grabbed, he will probably go under the hammer in the upcoming IPL auction.
3. Najibullah Zadran
The Afghani team is known for its aggressive brand of cricket. Despite failing to reach the finals, the Mohammad Nabi-led side was very impressive in the group stage. One of the key contributors to their good campaign was Najibullah Zadran. The 29-year-old middle-order batsman impressed everyone with his six-hitting abilities. In 73 T20Is, he has scored 1362 runs which include seven half-centuries. In the first match against Bangladesh, Zadran scored a match-winning knock of 43 off 17 balls, including six sixes. Further, he hit the 2nd most sixes for Afghanistan in the event (8), only behind Rahmanullah Gurabaz (12).
2. Dasun Shanaka
Asia Cup-winning captain Dasun Shanaka is collecting praises from across the globe for a successful tournament. The 31-year-old impressed everyone with his zeal to win the trophy, and a few fans stated that it reminded them of how MS Dhoni led India to the 2007 T20 World Cup. The 31-year-old amassed 111 runs in six innings and took two wickets. The all-rounder made his T20I debut in 2015, but his heroics in the Asia Cup 2022 might see him soon making his IPL debut.
1. Ibrahim Zadran
The 20-year-old Afghani has arrived and is here to stay. Zadran ended the tournament as the 3rd highest run scorer. He amassed 196 runs in five matches, including his maiden T20I half-century. Batting at one-down, Zadran posed challenges for the opposition and emerged as the star player for his side. Zadran, who is a cousin of famous spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman made his T20I debut in 2019 when he was 17. The 20-year-old hasn’t played in foreign T20 leagues and represents Mis Ainak Knights. Although looking at his batting prowess, several franchises would look to target him.