Sri Lanka 261-5 (Thirimanne 101) beat
Pakistan 260-5 (Malinga 5-56) by 5 wickets
Asia Cup Final, Mirpur
Lahiru Thirmanne hit his third One-Day International century to lead Sri Lanka to their fifth Asia Cup.
Set 261 to win as Pakistan recovered from 18 for three thanks to a maiden century from Fawad Alam and half-centuries from Misbah-ul-Haq and Umar Akmal, Thirimanne anchored the Sri Lankan run chase alongside Mahela Jayawardene, who made 75. Angelo Mathews (16 not out off 13 balls) and Chaturanga de Silva (6 off 9) completed the win by the margin of five wickets in the 47th over.
Kushal Perera had got the Sri Lankan chase off to a strong start by hitting 42 off 37 balls and dominating an opening partnership of 56 in 10 overs with Thirimanne. However, Saeed Ajmal, who was by far the pick of the Pakistan bowlers, struck twice in as many balls. He first had Perera stumped by Umar Akmal and then got the prize wicket of Kumar Sangakkara, trapped LBW first ball.
That was about as close as Pakistan were to come to defending their total as Thirimanne and Jayawardene scored the bulk of the runs required during a third-wicket partnership worth 156. Thirmanne notched 50 off 52 balls, with Jayawardene slightly more circumspect in taking 76 deliveries. He was finally dismissed, giving a catch to Sharjeel Khan off Mohammad Talha (6.2-0-56-1), when on 75.
Thirmanne, though, remained and reached his third ODI century off just 102 balls before departing not long after to Ajmal (3-26) with the winning line in sight.
Pakistan had earlier won the toss and elected to bat and were boosted by the inclusions of Sharjeel Khan, Ahmed Shehzad, Shahid Afridi and Umar Gul, who were all injury doubts heading into the match. However, they endured a torrid start as Malinga removed Sharjeel (8), Shehzad (5) and Mohammad Hafeez (3) in successive overs to leave them tottering on 18 for three.
Misbah and Fawad, though, were on hand to guide their side to a competitive total before Akmal added late impetus. The pair took their time over their fourth-wicket stand of 122, playing according to the situation, but set up Akmal’s innings perfectly.
Misbah took 78 balls to reach 50, while Fawad took an even more leisurely 91 as the first 50 that they shared took 106 balls. They upped the pace later on, with the second fifty taking only 66 balls, before Misbah picked out long-on when on 65 off 98 balls when in search of quick runs.
Akmal then came in and took the pressure of Fawad as he closed in on his maiden century. He reached 50 off just 35 balls, hitting seven boundaries in all before falling in the final over to that man Malinga for 59 off 42 balls. Fawad ended on 114 not out as Pakistan closed on 260 for five.
Malinga finished with excellent figures of five for 56 and would later be named man of the match, while Suranga Lakmal (10-2-41-0) and Angelo Mathews (7-1-23-0) returned respectable figures.
© Cricket World 2014