Asia Cup review

Hello, good afternoon sports fans, it’s me Ayyaz Malik aka The Sports Buff. I hope you’re well, looking after yourselves and in you’re good health. We need to talk sports fans about sports and in particular, cricket.
Yesterday’s match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan was the final of the Asia Cup, which many (after India’s early exit), thought that it would be a final that Pakistan would win.

In the dress rehearsal of the final between the two sides who played on Friday, it would be Sri Lanka who would win comfortably. The argument was that Pakistan didn’t have their full-strength bowling attack on show, so it was excusable to a point for them to lose.

Sunday’s final then would be two teams who would be going at full tilt in their quest for supremacy on the Asian continent. Both teams, are loaded with talented bowlers and batsmen, so it appeared an even contest, but one to favour Pakistan.

No bias, as I make such a statement, but 2009 world T20 champions Pakistan have the world number one player Mohammed Rizwan and the former world number one player Babar Azam in their ranks.

Dasun Shanaka’s Sri Lanka, who outplayed India on their way to the final, would do the same to Pakistan again. Babar’s men, who had to use all their battling skills and nous to beat Afghanistan and India, were very poor in Sunday’s showpiece.

Under Babar Azam, Pakistan who were notorious for being a poor side in the field in the past, have turned into purring panthers under the 27-year-old’s leadership. Shadab Khan and Babar Azam being their best fieldsman arguably.

A mention must go to players like Haris Rauf too, who is also underestimated with his fielding skills. As good as they have been under Babar, they were poor in the final, dropped catches and overthrows, which made me think It was the 90’s all over again.

Praised for his captaincy and his calmness during his tenure, rightly or wrongly Azam will be called out again for the way he handles his team/himself in pressure situations.

The role of the armchair coach is the easiest in world cricket, but the one-dimensional tactics he shows at times are concerning. To his credit, his tactical flexibility by moving Mohammed Nawaz up the order against India must be applauded.

Pakistan tried to repeat the trick in the final, but it was too little too late as Mohammed Rizwan and Iftikhar Ahmed constructed a partnership but did so in a painstaking manner.

As harsh, as I have been about Pakistan, credit is really due to Sri Lanka. Shanaka’s men were brilliant. They won the game by 23 runs. that’s including the nightmare first over where eight runs were scored, before a legal ball was bowled.

The Asia Cup winners Sri Lanka bowled superbly, batted wonderfully and backed it all up in the field ever so well. All their catches stuck and their ground fielding was superb.

Pakistan didn’t really have a sniff. The Lions (Sri Lanka), roared and hunted every ball down like it was prey. Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who was slightly circumspect to start with, blasted 71 from 45 which proved crucial.

Congratulations to Sri Lanka, who have won their sixth Asia Cup trophy only India (seven) have more. The tournament, although a disappointing one for holders India, was made better with Virat Kohli ending his three-year drought for an International hundred.

Against Afghanistan, the 33-year-old Kohli smacked 122 not-out, which would have no doubt silenced some critics. As for India, they have a series with South Africa and Australia to contend with, the team at will bring you the news of that.

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