Bhanuka Rajapaksa played the best innings of his T20I career in the Asia Cup 2022 final at the Dubai International Stadium. Coming to bat with Sri Lanka 53/4, he kept the scoreboard ticking.
His unbeaten 71, laced with 6 fours and 3 sixes, took the team to a challenging total of 170/6, which looked impossible at one stage.
Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s 71* is now the highest score by a No.4 or lower batter in a men’s T20I final.
The previous highest among full-member matches is 69* by Kumar Sangakkara in the 2009 T20 World Cup. It was also for Sri Lanka against Pakistan.
Earlier, Pakistan won the toss and elected to field against Sri Lanka in the final of the Asia Cup on Sunday.
Sri Lanka will be defending a target after winning four consecutive games while chasing targets, including the victory in the last Super 4 game against Pakistan.
Captain Dasun Shanaka said he would’ve bowled first had he won his fifth toss in a row but was also happy to bat first in the final.
“We’ve been playing some good cricket and want to continue that,” Shanaka said at the toss while praising his opening batters Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Mendis.
“The record has been good for us in the final, and we are looking forward to another championship.”
Sri Lanka is a five-time Asia Cup champion, while Pakistan has won the title twice.
Sri Lanka retained the same playing XI, including an additional off-spinner in Dhananjaya de Silva to supplement Maheesh Theekshana and Wanindu Hasaranga.
As expected, Pakistan made two changes from the team that was bowled out for 121 in the last game against Sri Lanka.
All-rounder Shadab Khan and fast bowler Naseem Shah, who both starred in their team’s sensational one-wicket win over Afghanistan, returned in place of Hasan Ali and Usman Qadir.
Pakistan: Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Asif Ali, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hasnain, Naseem Shah.
Sri Lanka: Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Danushka Gunathilaka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Dasun Shanaka (captain), Wanindu Hasaranga, Chamika Karunaratne, Maheesh Theekshana, Pramod Madhusan, Dilshan Madushanka.