Hasnain and Rauf picked up three early wickets but the target was too modest.
By five wickets, Sri Lanka defeated Pakistan 121 (Babar 30, Hasaranga 3-21, Theekshana 2-21, Madushan 2-21) with 124 for 5 (Nissan Ka 55*, Rauf 2-19, Hasnain 2-21).
Yes, another chasing team won in Dubai, giving the city a total of 17 chasing side triumphs in the last 20 T20Is. But this time, before the second innings even started, Sri Lanka’s bowlers may have have contributed to the victory.
Pakistan’s innings could never quite achieve lift-off, and when the middle overs came, Wanindu Hasranga put in his first big performance of the tournament, taking 3 for 21. After his strikes, Pakistan’s horizons contracted substantially, despite the best efforts of Mohammad Nawaz, who seemed to be striking well in the 26 he made off 18, before he was run out. Eventually, Pakistan succumbed to 121.
Pakistan’s quick bowling in the powerplay alarmed Sri Lanka, who at one point fell to 29 for 3. However, because the aim was so modest, they could afford to move slowly. The pursuit was led by Pathum Nissanka, who hammered an unbroken 55 off 48. Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Dasun Shaneka’s less significant but more aggressive performances allowed Sri Lanka to saunter home with 18 balls and five wickets remaining.
Hasaranga’s googly dominates the middle overs
Perhaps it is because Pakistan had not played Hasaranga since 2019 (he has been a much-improved bowler since then), that they appeared especially powerless against his primary weapon – the ball that turns into the right-hander. He conceded just six runs in his first two overs. When Babar Azam, who had moved to 30 off 28, finally came down the track and took a chance, he was beaten comprehensively – Hasaranga slipping a straighter one beneath his bat, and onto the wickets. Sri Lanka tune up for final with win
Iftikhar Ahmed hit a six off the fourth ball of Hasaranga’s last over, but the bowler made a roaring comeback. Not only did he bowl Iftikhar with a googly, he also got Asif Ali out first ball as the batter attempted nothing more ambitious than a defensive shot, and still managed to play inside the line of a googly that clipped off stump. Pakistan were 91 for 6.
Sri Lanka control the early overs
The tight bowling of Sri Lanka throughout the powerplay had prepared for that period. On a worn-out surface, Sri Lanka only allowed one boundary off the bat in the first five overs. Fingerspinners Maheesh Theekshana and Dhananjaya de Silva, together with debutants Pramod Madushan and Dilshan Madushanka, mostly kept things in check. Hasaranga helped Sri Lanka restrain the score despite the sixth over going for 12 runs.
In fact, from balls 5.5 to 14.3 (a stretch of 53 deliveries) Pakistan did not hit a boundary off the bat – five wides the only occasion on which the ball crossed the rope. This put huge pressure on the second half of the innings, and batters got out trying to hit big. Pakistan lost their last nine wickets for 58 runs. Sri Lanka tune up for final with win
Hasnain and Rauf rip out three wickets
Because Mohammad Hasnain and Haris Rauf took three early wickets and gave hope, Pakistan’s bowlers had an even stronger powerplay than Sri Lanka’s. With the batsman edging Kusal Mendis’ second pitch to slip, Hasnain got one to bounce. Mohammad Rizwan dived acrobatically to his right to grab the opportunity as Rauf took Danushka Gunathilaka’s outside edge next over with the aid of additional bounce.
Hasnain could have had Dhananjaya in his next over had he held a tough return chance, but Rauf got him before long anyway, beating him for pace with a ball on the stumps, which de Silva mis-hit to mid-off.
Nissanka and Co settle things
That was as good as it got for Pakistan, though. Sri Lanka tune up for final with win. Rajapaksa hit a couple of sixes off Usman Qadir early in the middle overs to get Sri Lanka well ahead of the required rate. Nissanka accumulated safely at the other end. They hit occasional boundaries, and though Rajapaksa got out with 42 still to get, they had 51 balls to get them in. Nissanka completed the seventh fifty of his T20I career and helped massage the chase home, with Hasaranga hitting the winning runs. Sri Lanka tune up for final with win