So Sri Lanka have won four matches in a row, and go into the final as the form team of the Asia Cup final. The disclaimers: they have won all four tosses, and as such have been allowed to chase. Not only do they historically prefer chasing, Dubai - where three of those four wins have come - has favoured chasing teams to an almost extreme degree - 17 of the last 20 T20I winners there having been sides that batted second.
Nevertheless, this is an impressive run from a team that was not expected to make it to the final, and have been poor in T20Is for the past several years. Although this is not a team that has relied on star power, there have been key performers. Here are some of the best.
Pathum Nissanka - the engine room
Like a go-kart gaining momentum as it comes down the hill, Pathum Nissanka
has played better and better innings as the Asia Cup has gone on. He scored 3 in the bad loss to Afghanistan, but then made 20 off 19, in the victory against Bangladesh, before truly hitting his straps in the Super Fours.
Against Afghanistan, he hit 35 off 28, and was part of a 62-run opening stand that set the platform for their chasing down 176 - a Sharjah ground record. Then came the fifties - the 52 off 37 against India, in which he and Mendis again put on an excellent opening stand. On Friday's match against Pakistan, Mendis fell second ball, and Sri Lanka lost three wickets inside five overs, but Nissanka held the innings together, eventually finishing with 55 off 48, as Sri Lanka cruised home.
His tournament strike rate of 118.70 isn't particularly impressive, but he is Sri Lanka's top scorer, with 165 runs.
Mendis, Rajapaksa, and Shanaka - the power-hitters
While Nissanka has worked on giving the Sri Lankan innings substance, these are the batters who have provided firepower. Kusal Mendis
has been the most prolific, rolling through a year in which he has been outstanding across formats, in both domestic and international cricket. He's hit two fifties (against Bangladesh, and India), and struck at 158.16 through the tournament.
and Bhanuka Rajapaksa
- the best six-hitters in the side - have struck in the 140s, but have taken chases deep. Rajapaksa's best performance came against Afghanistan (in the Super Fours), whom he cracked 31 off 14 against, to put Sri Lanka on the brink of victory. Shanaka had a good outing against Bangladesh, when he hit 45 off 33.
But they combined nicely against India - Rajapaksa making 25 off 17, and Shanaka 33 off 18, as they put on 64 together off 34 deliveries, to see Sri Lanka home.
Theekshana's economy, and Madushanka's wickets
All through his T20I career, Maheesh Theekshana
has been almost unfailingly miserly - his career economy rate of 6.53 a testament to how much discipline he brings to his unorthodox craft. In this tournament, he's been no different. After 20 overs bowled, some of those in the powerplay, and others at the death, Theekshana has gone at just 6.85 an over, and claimed five wickets besides.
On the seam-bowling front, no one has been more impressive than Dilshan Madushanka
, and is in fact their highest wicket-taker alongside Wanindu Hasaranga
, with six dismissals. In the absence of Dushmantha Chameera, his inswing (to the right-hander) with the new ball, has been frequently menacing. And he's been good at the death, which had been a problem for Sri Lanka. He's conceded just 44 from 30 deliveries he has sent down from the 16th over onwards. His inswinger to flatten Virat Kohli's off and middle stumps is perhaps Sri Lanka's most memorable moment of the tournament.