Rajapaksa’s unbeaten 71 take Sri Lanka to 170-6 in Asian Cup final

DUBAI: Bhanuka Rajapaksa beat an unbeaten 71 to guide Sri Lanka to 170-6 after Pakistan’s Haris Rauf rocked the opposition with early wickets in the Asian Cup final on Sunday (September 11).

Southpaw Rajapaksa set up a key 58-run position for the sixth wicket with Wanindu Hasaranga, who struck 36, to help Sri Lanka to a competitive aggregate after struggling at 58-5 in Dubai.

Rauf stood out with numbers of 3-29 on his four pace passes.

Pakistan won the toss and skipper Babar Azam didn’t hesitate to field first in Dubai with nine of the team’s 12 wins continuing in the tournament, a curtain raiser for the T20 World Cup next month in Australia.

Pace thrower Naseem Shah struck in the open as he knocked down Kusal Mendis for a first-ball duck with a searing inswinger.

Dhananjaya de Silva hit back with two straight drives for Mohammad Hasnain’s limits to start the innings.

Pathum Nissanka attempted to play his shots in the first six overs of the power play, but trumped Rauf and was caught mid-run.

Rauf sent the stump coasting in her second game to send Danushka Gunathilaka back to the pavilion as Sri Lanka slipped to 36-3.

The wickets continued to tumble with De Dilva’s innings shortened by Iftikhar Ahmed on the 28th and skipper Dasun Shanaka played by leg spinner Shadab Khan on the two as a packed crowd, dominated by Pakistani fans, erupted.

Rajapaksa and Hasaranga came together to rebuild innings as both reached the regular limits to increase the scoring rate.

Rauf fired Hasaranga, who hit five fours and a six in his 21-ball run, caught behind for his 50th T20 wicket to break the dangerous position.

Rajapaksa kept the attack going and survived a dropped hold by Shadab from deep, soon reaching his third T20 half.

Rajapaksa, who finished the sets with a four and six against Naseem in his 45-ball blitz, and Chamika Karunaratne put up 54 runs to further increase the total.

Pakistan need 171 points to claim their third Asian Cup title.