A title clash though is a very different cup of tea from a league stage or Super 4 match. The pressure on the players in a big final is much more. Add to that the fact that the world will be looking at the Lankans today to see if they can take a big step forward in their team rebuilding process and you know that Dasun Shanaka and co. will be very keenly aware of just how much is at stake here for them.
Pakistan on the other hand are being tagged the favourites, despite losing to the Lankans in the last Super 4 match.
Ahead of the final tonight in Dubai, here’s some interesting statistical trivia on the two teams at this tournament over the years:
# Sri Lanka have won two and lost one out of three Finals played against Pakistan in the Asia Cup.
# Sri Lanka (195/5 off 42.2 overs) defeated Pakistan (191 for nine off 45 overs) by five wickets in the Final at Colombo (SSC) on April 6, 1986. For Pakistan, Javed Miandad had posted 67 off 100 balls. He was adjudged the Man of the Match.
# For Sri Lanka, two match-winning fifties were recorded – Aravinda de Silva (52) and Arjuna Ranatunga (57). Kaushik Amalean had produced splendid figures of 4 for 46 while Abdul Qadir had bagged 3 for 32.
# Pakistan (277 for four off 50 overs) beat Sri Lanka (238 off 45.2 overs) by 39 runs in the second Final at Dhaka on June 7, 2000 thanks mainly to Saeed Anwar (82), Inzamam-ul-Haq (72 not out) and Captain Moin Khan (56 not out). Moin Khan was adjudged the Man of the Match. Marvan Atapattu posted 100 off 124 balls.
# Sri Lanka (261 for five off 46.2 overs) defeated Pakistan (260 for five off 50 overs) by five wickets in the third Final at Mirpur on March 8, 2014. For Pakistan, numbers 4, 5 & 6 batted splendidly – Misbah-ul-Haq (65), Fawad Alam
(114 not out) and Umar Akmal (59). For Sri Lanka, Lahiru Thirimanne posted 101 off 108 balls.
Lasith Malinga. (Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images)
# Lasith Malinga had produced splendid figures of 5 for 56 at Mirpur on March 8, 2014 – the only five-wicket haul by a Sri Lankan bowler in the Asia Cup Final against Pakistan.
# Saeed Ajmal took 3 wickets conceding 26 runs against Sri Lanka at Mirpur on March 8, 2014 – the best figures by a Pakistani bowler against any opponent in the Asia Cup Final.
# Two games have been played between these two teams in the Twenty20 Asia Cup. Sri Lanka’s well-deserved
triumph by five wickets at Dubai on September 9, 2022 was their first against Pakistan. Sri Lanka’s only previous fixture against Pakistan in the T20 Asia Cup resulted in a six-wicket loss at Mirpur on March 4, 2016.
# Pakistan’s 121 at Dubai on September 9, 2022 was their lowest all-out total against Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup – their second lowest next to the 83 off 17.3 overs against India at Mirpur on February 27, 2016.