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12th Match, Super Four (N), Dubai (DICS), September 09, 2022, Men's T20 Asia Cup
(17/20 ov, T:122) 124/5

Sri Lanka won by 5 wickets (with 18 balls remaining)

Player Of The Match
3/21 & 2 catches

Sri Lanka and Pakistan in dress rehearsal for final

Opportunity for Babar Azam to get back among the runs after a string of low scores; both sides likely to rest key bowlers

Sri Lanka's players celebrate after beating India, India vs Sri Lanka, Asia Cup, Dubai, September 6, 2022

Sri Lanka defeated India in their previous match, after also having beaten Afghanistan  •  Associated Press

Big Picture

Both economies are on the verge of collapse - Sri Lanka's, it might be argued, is collapsing already; both nations are straining under outsized external debt; and both are negotiating with the IMF for relief. It is the first of two Pakistan vs Sri Lanka matches to finish the Asia Cup off. Welcome to the first Debt Trap Derby.
On their way here, both teams have done a lot of high-class chasing. Sri Lanka set a Sharjah ground record when they ran down 176 against Afghanistan.
Pakistan chasing 182 against India with one ball to spare was perhaps even more impressive, before Sri Lanka also defeated India with one ball to spare soon after.
Although Pakistan's middle and lower orders collapsed against Afghanistan, leaving No. 10 Naseem Shah with the task of hitting big blows to get them across the line, this batting order has a decent body of work behind it, and will arrive at these last two matches with some confidence.
Sri Lanka's batting has only clicked more recently and, even then, almost exclusively while chasing. However, between Kusal Mendis, Dasun Shanaka and Bhanuka Rajapaksa, they have got destructive batters in form. Pakistan have relied a little more heavily on Mohammad Rizwan, who is one of only two batters with more than 200 runs in the tournament so far, with 212 at an average of 70.66.
On the bowling front, Pakistan perhaps have a clear advantage. But then, both teams are likely to rest key bowlers for this dead rubber.

Form guide

Sri Lanka WWWLW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Pakistan WWWLL

In the spotlight

Four innings, 33 runs, a strike rate of 117: Babar Azam, arguably the best batter in the tournament, is having a poor stretch. There is no obvious reason for the low scores, so perhaps it is a mixture of confidence and luck. Either way, you don't expect him to stay down for long. If Sri Lanka opt for a weaker bowling attack for this match, perhaps he will have the chance to bounce back.
If you think Babar's stretch is bad, Charith Asalanka has made 0, 1, 8, and 0 so far, eating up 21 balls for those nine runs. He had been Sri Lanka's find of the T20 World Cup on these very pitches last year, but has seemingly hit a wall, having also failed to put up notable scores in a domestic T20 competition shortly before this tournament. Sri Lanka will likely give him one more game to get it right. But the likes of Ashen Bandara, who had done well in that same domestic competition, is breathing down his neck.

Team news

Sri Lanka might swap Asitha Fernando, who has been expensive, for one of the younger quick bowlers Matheesha Pathirana or Pramod Madushan; the latter, if he plays, would be making his debut. There is also a chance of Sri Lanka resting Wanindu Hasaranga so as to not give Pakistan a look at him ahead of the final, and bringing in Jeffrey Vandersay.
Sri Lanka (possible): 1 Kusal Mendis (wk), 2 Pathum Nissanka, 3 Charith Asalanka, 4 Danushka Gunathilaka, 5 Dasun Shanaka (capt,), 6 Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 7 Chamika Karunaratne, 8 Jeffrey Vandersay, 9 Maheesh Theekshana, 10 Matheesha Pathirana, 11 Dilshan Madushanka
Pakistan may give Naseem a break for Hasan Ali. There is also a chance that Shadab Khan might be rested, with Usman Qadir coming in.
Pakistan (probable): 1 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 2 Babar Azam (capt), 3 Fakhar Zaman, 4 Iftikhar Ahmed, 5 Khushdil Shah, 6 Asif Ali, 7 Mohammad Nawaz, 8 Shadab Khan/Usman Qadir, 9 Hasan Ali, 10 Haris Rauf, 11 Mohammad Hasnain

Pitch and conditions

As usual, the Dubai pitch is expected to favour the team batting second, with dew perhaps forming in the second innings to hamper the bowlers. It will be the same surface as the one used by India and Afghanistan on Thursday and so, as such, will be worn.

Stats and trivia

  • Sixteen of the last 18 matches in Dubai - not counting the result between India and Afghanistan on Thursday night - have been won by the chasing side. The only teams who have lost batting second are Hong Kong and Scotland.
  • Overall, Sri Lanka have lost 13 and won only eight T20Is against Pakistan. They won the last three in a row, but that was back in 2019.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf

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