Asia Cup 2014

Battle between evenly matched sides

The Asia Cup final will be the first time the two teams will be playing each other for the title in a tournament involving five or more teams

Shiva Jayaraman

March 7, 2014

Comments: 19 | Text size: A | A

Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene punch gloves during their partnership, England v Sri Lanka, Champions Trophy, Group A, The Oval, June 13, 2013
Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene have usually punched above their weight in crunch games for Sri Lanka © Associated Press
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Pakistan and Sri Lanka have never played each other in the finals of a major ODI tournament (involving five or more teams). Of the 25 such tournaments they have played in together, this Asia Cup is the first time that both the teams are in the final.

It has been nearly 15 years since Pakistan have progressed to the final of an ODI tournament involving five or more teams. The last such game for Pakistan was the title match of the 1999 World Cup when they lost to Australia. They have played in seven such finals and have emerged as the winners in five of these.

Sri Lanka have played six such matches and have won three of them, not including the 2002 Champions Trophy, which was shared between them and India after the finals were rained-off. Unlike Pakistan, they have had a more recent experience of playing in the finals of a major tournament, having played India in the 2011 World Cup.

Including the last Asia Cup, in the last five years, Pakistan have made it to the finals of any ODI tournament only twice, both these instance having come in Mirpur. They have however, made the best of these two opportunities by winning on both occasions. The fact that Pakistan haven't made it too often to the finals of an ODI series in the recent past has meant that half their current squad hasn't played in such matches before. Shahid Afridi - who has won them their last two games - has appeared in 31 ODI finals for Pakistan and is their most experienced batsman. Afridi - whose ODI career average is 23.44 - is their top scorer in such matches, having scored 621 runs at 20.70. Mohammad Hafeez is the only other Pakistan batsman to have played in at least five finals. His batting average in these matches, however, can do with some improvement: he has scored 61 runs at 12.20.

Pakistan batsmen, finals v career averages
  ODI Finals ODI Career
Batsman Inns Runs Ave SR Inns Runs Ave SR
Shahid Afridi 31 621 20.70 101.1 344 7582 23.69 115.5
Mohammad Hafeez 5 61 12.20 37.2 145 4251 31.25 72.65
Misbah-ul-haq 3 96 32.00 81.4 132 4462 44.17 74.09
Umar Akmal 1 30 30.00 66.7 82 2564 38.26 86.32

Afridi leads the bowling list too, with 29 wickets at 31.55 in the 31 finals that he has bowled in. Umar Gul's six wickets are the next highest in the list. Pakistan's leading bowler Saeed Ajmal has played in only one final - in the last Asia Cup against Bangladesh - in which his returns were 2 for 40 from ten overs.

Pakistan bowlers, finals v career averages
  ODI Finals ODI Career
Bowler Inns Wkts Ave Eco Inns Wkts Ave Eco
Shahid Afridi 31 29 31.55 4.9 372 376 33.82 4.6
Mohammad Hafeez 5 3 46.66 3.4 137 118 35.25 4.1
Umar Gul 3 6 24.33 5.4 121 173 28.45 5.1
Saeed Ajmal 1 2 20.00 4.0 108 179 22.47 4.2
Fawad Alam 1 1 24.00 4.0 11 4 86.00 5.51

Sri Lanka have two seasoned campaigners, in Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, who have scored 1000-plus runs in such games. Jayawardene has made 1028 runs including one century and nine fifties in 31 innings. He scores at an average of 36.71 in finals, which is better than his career average of 33.15. Sangakkara too, has performed well in these crunch games. In 26 innings Sangakkara has scored 11 fifties and his 1023 runs in these matches have come at 40.92, a fraction more than his career average of 40.71.

Sri Lanka batsmen, finals v career averages
  ODI Finals ODI Career
Batsman Inns Runs Ave SR Inns Runs Ave SR
Mahela Jayawardene 30 1028 36.71 82.6 384 11437 33.05 78.4
Kumar Sangakkara 26 1023 40.92 74.3 345 12500 40.58 77.3
Dinesh Chandimal 5 57 19.00 77.0 72 1875 31.25 74.1
Angelo Mathews 4 25 6.25 61.0 98 2549 36.94 83.5
Lahiru Thirimanne 3 90 30.00 56.6 46 1221 29.07 68.4
Thisara Perera 3 34 34.00 147.8 55 782 18.18 104.5

Among bowlers from the current Sri Lanka squad, Lasith Malinga, with 14 wickets, is the leading wicket-taker in finals. However, Malinga averages almost ten runs more per wicket and gives away a run and a fraction more when bowling in such matches. Ajantha Mendis, who has taken 26 wickets at 10.42 in the Asia Cup, tends to improve his performance in the finals: his 12 wickets in these games have come at 12.58 and at an economy of 4.0.

Sri Lanka bowlers, finals v career averages
  ODI Finals ODI Career
Bowler Inns Wkts Ave Eco Inns Wkts Ave Eco
Lasith Malinga 9 14 37.07 6.2 159 251 27.18 5.2
Angelo Mathews 5 2 65.50 4.4 97 73 35.32 4.5
Ajantha Mendis 4 12 12.58 4.0 67 121 20.50 4.4
Dhammika Prasad 1 2 25.50 7.3 13 21 26.00 5.5
Suranga Lakmal 1 1 33.00 3.3 23 35 29.71 5.6

In recent times Pakistan's batting line-up has been the more consistent one, with three of their batsmen - Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad - scoring 1000-plus runs at an average of 40-plus in ODIs since 2013. For Sri Lanka, Sangakkara is the only batsman to average above 40 in this period - he has scored 1585 runs at an average of 63.40.

As bowling units, the teams are more or less evenly matched with both sides boasting spinners and fast bowlers who have done well recently. The overall numbers for the teams look similar in matches since 2013. While Sri Lanka's bowlers have taken 245 wickets at 29.21 and have had an economy of 4.85, Pakistan have taken 272 wickets at 30.42 and have given away 4.70 runs an over.

The teams have met each other in the finals of the Asia Cup twice before this one, with Pakistan winning the 2000 edition and Sri Lanka winning in 1986. The last time these two teams met in any ODI final was the Paktel Cup in 2004, with Sri Lanka coming out on top on that occasion. Overall, the teams have played each other in 12 finals and have shared the honours, with each team winning on six occasions. Although Sri Lanka have had the upper hand in the Asia Cup, winning nine of the 13 matches they have played against Pakistan, the teams' recent head-to-head record points to an even match-up. Including the league game in this Asia Cup, the teams have played 12 ODIs against each other since 2012, of which six have been won by Sri Lanka and five by Pakistan.

Sri Lanka v Pakistan, head-to-head
Mat SL wins Pak wins No Result
ODI Series finals 12 6 6 -
Asia Cup finals 2 1 1 -
Asia Cup 13 9 4 -
Since 2012 12 6 5 1

Shiva Jayaraman is a sub-editor (stats) at ESPNcricinfo.com

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Posted by Yousafahmed11 on (March 8, 2014, 9:23 GMT)

I am not surprised by the fact that Sanga is the ONLY SL batman with average over 40. That show how much we depends on him. Chandimal is a big failure so as Mathews. Now a days Mathews find a way to score runs against few minnow teams lik BD. But overall he has some good luck in 2014, thats all.

Posted by ats78 on (March 8, 2014, 6:14 GMT)

Its gonna be a good match, really surprised to see the stats, i think on a given day all the three asian teams (ind pak sl) can win against any team, india has been in more finals , CT and WCs , SL have also been in WC finals, and pak is also the team everyone is scared of , so i think instead of blaming each other we can see the positives of each and every team and assess the teams, any ways good luck to both the teams, may the best team win..

Posted by   on (March 8, 2014, 4:45 GMT)

@Praveen Shavindra Muthuthanthri Excellent :p

Posted by   on (March 8, 2014, 1:10 GMT)

Yes Devinda, Pak indeed beat SL in 2009 final but that was t20, this article is all about 50 over finals!!

shocking pak have not been in 50 over final since 99 world cup, our team has hit rough patch since millennium and the quality of players have not been great, were beginning to rise again, all the best for final team pak!!

Posted by   on (March 8, 2014, 0:55 GMT)

Looking forward to a great game of cricket. I think Pakistan is in a slightly better position because they have won tough games but Srilankans have all the ability to win this. Wish both teams the best of luck for today.

Posted by OceanBreeze on (March 7, 2014, 23:16 GMT)

Pakistan will win. Enough said.

Posted by   on (March 7, 2014, 23:00 GMT)

Surprised that more wasn't made of Ajantha Mendis' extraordinary stats in finals. His record is literally twice as good as the next best from Sri Lanka. Indeed he wasn't picked for the 1st game of their tournament. When will the brains trust learn that he should be an automatic selection and has proven to be a match winner in big games?

Posted by   on (March 7, 2014, 22:06 GMT)

come what may! i think Shahid Afridi will be a key player in the final match against Sri Lanka. His previous stats against Sri Lanka prove my point that he has invariably been at his best and delivers the knock out punch against Sri Lanka.

Posted by Ahmed81 on (March 7, 2014, 20:56 GMT)

The Asia cup 2000 final was between Pakistan and Srilanka, which Pakistan won, their first Asia cup final win.

Posted by rsiddiqi on (March 7, 2014, 19:26 GMT)

I am praying there are no umpiring muck ups this time. Being a Pakistani fan i'm just about sick of them now (Vs India - two lbws not given, Vs BD - Shoaib Maqsood given out wrong). I'm sure our Srilankan friends have had similar experiences during these matches. Hoping for a cleanly umpired game with the better team winning.

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Shiva Jayaraman is a sub-editor (stats) at ESPNcricinfo.com
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