After a two-year delay imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the T20 Asia Cup finally took place in the United Arab Emirates in September 2022. After 15 days of frenetic action, Sri Lanka emerged victorious to claim their sixth title overall and crown a dream tournament for the island nation.
So, after a tournament that was well worth the wait, we take the time to look back and reflect on some of the finest moments from the T20 Asia Cup 2022. What do you think? Do you agree with our appraisal? Take a look at our selection and let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
A crushing opening day defeat
Although Sri Lanka’s Asia Cup ended in fairytale fashion, it couldn’t have gotten off to a worse possible start. After being bowled out by Afghanistan for a measly 105, Sri Lanka were swept aside by their Central Asian opponents with eight wickets and almost 10 overs to spare – chastening start to life at the tournament indeed. Afghanistan were extremely good value for the win and at this point, very few people would have predicted that the team they had vanquished so easily would go on and win the competition.
Impressive comeback against Bangladesh
Things almost went from bad to worse for the islanders as well, after they left themselves a mountain to climb against Bangladesh. After a disappointing 16th over, Sri Lanka needed 43 runs from 24 balls… and they came good when it mattered most. A pair of nines in the 17th and 18th overs preceded a whopping 17 in the 19th, so all that remained were eight runs from six balls in the final over. The Sri Lankans won through with two balls to spare, securing their place in the Super Four in dramatic style.
Naseem Shah’s back-to-back sixes
Bowler Naseem Shah turned into Pakistan’s savior in a nail-biting decider against Afghanistan in the Super Four. When he stepped onto the turf, Pakistan trailed their opponents by 20 runs with 10 balls remaining and two wickets in hand. However, back-to-back sixes from the bowler slashed the deficit and allowed his team win through comfortably. “There needs to be belief, we keep practicing in the nets and I also changed my bat, it worked,” explained Shah. “There is very little belief when you are nine down, but I had the self-belief and this will be a memorable game for me.”
Sri Lanka seal sixth title
After that shaky start, Sri Lanka were solid as a rock for the rest of the tournament and a mouth-watering final against Pakistan was no exception. Bhanuka Rajapaksa was the driving force behind their performance in the final, recording 71 runs from 45 balls not out. Ultimately, Pakistan were unable to reach the target of 170 runs, thanks largely to the work of fast bowler Haris Rauf, who took three wickets from 29 balls. All in all, though, it was an accomplished team effort from worthy winners of the Cup.
Fans of the Asia Cup won’t have too long to wait this time, as the next incarnation kicks off in Pakistan later this year. Can Sri Lanka retain their crown and equal India’s sixth title? Only time will tell.