Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Wanindu Hasaranga have grow to be family names in current instances, partly due to what they’ve achieved for Sri Lanka however largely attributable to their exploits within the Indian Premier League (IPL). Whereas Rajapaksa featured for the Punjab Kings in IPL 2022, Hasaranga donned the Royal Challengers Bangalore purple, with each having fun with extremely profitable seasons.
Thus, each have been anticipated to play a large position for Sri Lanka on the Asia Cup. Not simply because their skill-set is unrivalled but in addition due to the expertise they dropped at the fore. And on Sunday, with 1,000,000 eyeballs gazing at how Sri Lanka would react to strain, each of them emerged from the rubble unscathed.
There have been numerous events when Pakistan put Sri Lanka underneath strife within the ultimate. The primary of these got here within the opening over when Naseem Shah despatched Kusal Mendis’ off stump flying. Pathum Nissanka adopted swimsuit quickly after, with Danushka Gunathilaka additionally biting the mud within the sixth over.
At one stage, Sri Lanka discovered themselves staring down the barrel at 58/5. Rajapaksa was nonetheless round and he had Hasaranga for firm. But, contemplating how their batting unit had excelled up till the ultimate, this was a bitter tablet to swallow.
Most groups, and most gamers would have wilted underneath the burden of expectations. This was, lest we neglect, the primary time Sri Lanka had made the Asia Cup ultimate since 2014. And right here they have been, attempting their utmost to make that appear a contented anomaly fairly than a promising signal of issues to return.
Hasaranga and Rajapaksa have been excellent in opposition to Pakistan
However Hasaranga and Rajapaksa had different concepts. For these unaware, Rajapaksa is a free-flowing batter by nature and infrequently permits bowlers to settle. He has an unlimited array of strokes and may assault any sort of bowling. On Sunday, although, he determined to bide his time. He opted to evaluate his choices and wait – one thing that Rajapaksa just isn’t actually related to, however one thing that merely wanted to be finished.
This game-awareness, in some ways, is a product of the IPL. On the Punjab Kings, the left-handed batter was normally given the license to thrill. The strain conditions, nonetheless, additionally educate you change tack when mandatory – a studying he used to nice impact in opposition to Pakistan on Sunday.
Three of his first 4 boundaries got here within the third-man area, which for a batter normally very highly effective down the bottom, was a refreshing change. The opposite boundary, as you might need guessed by now, was a crisp lofted further cowl drive off Shadab Khan.
Of the 71 runs that he scored in opposition to Pakistan, solely 59.1% got here in boundaries. Which may not be a nasty tally for lots of batters however for Rajapaksa, who has, all through his T20 profession, scored 63.17% of runs in boundaries, it was a refreshing tweak in strategy. It was an adjustment that was maybe borne out of the state of affairs. Nonetheless, it was additionally a modification that he was capable of make as a result of he was assured in his skills – assured that he’ll be capable to tide over this powerful interval and money in when the time is correct.
And he did. In the direction of the top of the innings, he unfurled his total repertoire of strokes. Sixes have been launched over backward sq. leg and additional cowl. An formidable ramp off Naseem Shah got here out too and the highly effective strokes down the bottom more and more grew to become a function.
Whereas Rajapaksa was alternating fantastically between the completely different batting gears he’s blessed with, Hasaranga grabbed the bull by the horns. He took aside the Pakistan bowling unit, all whereas proclaiming that he and Sri Lanka owned the stage. His batting up to now few months has not fetched him as many rewards because it did at first of his profession. In case you have been to observe Hasaranga on Sunday, although, you’d by no means have identified.
Hasaranga then returned to provide a powerful seventeenth over, which included three prized scalps to show the sport firmly in Sri Lanka’s favour. Maheesh Theekshana, one other Sri Lankan who performs for the Chennai Tremendous Kings within the IPL, held his personal too, solely conceding 25 runs from 4 overs.
Aside from being real match-winners, the opposite thread that ties up Hasaranga and Rajapaksa is their time within the IPL. This competitors, aside from serving to Indian home expertise come to the fore, can also be very fruitful for abroad stars who would possibly normally not get as a lot of a platform to check themselves in opposition to the perfect.
They accomplish that for 2 months, wrapped up in a bio-bubble and when cricket is the only underlying theme. And after they don the Sri Lankan colors, they not solely illustrate navigate their approach out of difficult terrains, they lead the cost.
The unimaginable facet about Sri Lanka’s Asia Cup victory has been how completely different gamers have stood up at completely different junctures. However everybody related to Sri Lankan cricket will inform you that when push got here to shove, prefer it did within the summit conflict on Sunday, their skilled stars got here by way of.
When Sri Lanka have been 58/5, they might have been forgiven to consider their horror defeat to Afghanistan earlier within the event. That was additionally the one time that they had batted first at this Asia Cup. The stage was set for all the pieces to unravel and for everybody to dub Sri Lanka one-trick ponies and fortunate entrants within the ultimate.
Hasaranga and Rajapaksa, although, had different concepts. It was not simply right down to talent (each of them possess that in abundance anyway). However it was additionally about how they soaked up the strain and all the time backed themselves to get the job finished. They used their expertise within the IPL to ace the massive event and that, contemplating a T20 World Cup can also be on the horizon, ought to make the Sri Lankan devoted drool over what this group might go on to realize.