Welcome to Dawn.com’s live coverage of the highly-anticipated Asia Cup final between Pakistan-Sri Lanka in Mirpur that promises high-voltage action after some thrilling matches in the group stages. Rampaging Shahid Afridi and prolific Kumar Sangakkara have set the stage for a rousing contest when Pakistan face Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup one-day final in Dhaka today. Angelo Mathews' Sri Lanka have been the dominant team in the five-nation event with four straight victories in the league, including a 12-run win over Pakistan in the tournament opener on February 25.
Lahiru Thirimanne and Mahela Jayawardene the architects for Sri Lanka's win, their fifth Asia Cup title! India and Sri Lanka now both have five titles, and with this win Mathews' men also look favourites at the upcoming World Twenty20. Malinga's spell undoubtedly set up the win for Sri Lanka, who sliced through Pakistan's top order. There was a spell of resurgence from Misbah's men after Fawad Alam scored his maiden ODI hundred and combined with Umar Akmal to take Pakistan to 260. But despite the late fireworks, it appeared Pakistan were at least 25-30 runs short. In response, Thirimanne and Perera led Sri Lanka's charge and struck some early blows to put themselves in the driving seat.
That's it! Sri Lanka cross the finish line at a canter! A clinical performance from Mathews' men who finish the tournament unbeaten!
WICKET! Thirimanne falls right after reaching his century, Ajmal strikes again! Chaturanga de Silva is the new man in. 14 off 35 required.
FOUR! Angelo Mathews lifts Junaid Khan over the covers. Pakistan will be playing with largely the same bowling attack in the World T20, some things to ponder. Thirimanne, meanwhile, notches up his second ton against Pakistan, he's mixed aggression with control brilliantly in this run chase. SL 247/4 in 44 overs.
WICKET! And Junaid picks up his first wicket of the tournament! Priyanjan tickles this to the keeper but Pakistan barely celebrate. 28 to win off 48 balls, Pakistani fans can take heart from their last over exploits in the previous games but will this one even go to the end?
FOUR! Ashan Priyanjan carves that one down the ground where a slack Afridi tries some football.
FOUR! Thirimanne plays the late cut masterfully to this short Talha delivery, 37 now required off the last 10 overs. Ajmal, Afridi, Gul, Junaid, who's it going to be for Pakistan? Hafeez it is.
WICKET! Pakistan finally hold onto one, Jayawardene departs for 75 but Sri Lanka in command and looking set to lift the title unless there's some drama around the corner.
FOUR! Jayawardene now sweeps Ajmal, he could well reach his ton before Thirimanne who's on 88.
FOUR! Jayawardene makes full use of that free-hit. Talha looks helpless as the next one flies over the keeper's head for the second boundary in the over!
DROPPED! Hafeez floors one, a tough chance but should have been taken! Jayawardene picked that length ball off his legs and Hafeez was clearly late out of the blocks as the ball sailed high into the air. Another boundary as that hits the hands of the fielder and trickles to the boundary. SL 190/2 in 34 overs.
FOUR! Jaya now cashes in on some mediocre bowling by Gul to reach his 71st fifty!
FOUR! Afridi throws it up and Thirimanne crashes it over the covers for his 12th boundary! SL 180/2 in 33 overs.
A verbal between Gul and Thirimanne yields no positive result for Pakistan as the batsman keeps his composure. Sri Lanka move to 174/2 in 32 overs.
While Umar Akmal seems a much more capable batsman than his brother, Thirimanne's drop once again highlights the lack of a genuine keeper in the team. The Sri Lankan opener was dropped on 36 off Afridi's bowling and now he looks set to score his third ODI century.
Jayawardene, who looked completely out of sorts in the opening games of the Asia Cup, has found his feet, Thirimanne seems to have taken a liking to the Pakistan attack. Umar Gul comes back. SL 160/2 in 29 overs.
FOUR! Too short and too wide, Junaid Khan's horror run continues and so does Thirimanne. Sri Lanka 156/2 in 27.3.
Junaid Khan is yet to pick up a wicket in the Asia Cup, his replacement in the previous match went for figures of 0-0-8. Needless to say, Pakistan is missing something from their fifth bowler. Ajmal back into the attack now. What can he do?
FOUR! No control from Talha and Thirimanne cashes in on it! This one is just helped towards the square leg boundary! SL 145/2 in 25 overs.
Pakistan losing it a bit in the field. 125 needed from 26 overs and unless there's a dramatic turnaround here, something which Pakistan has made a habit of in the Asia Cup, this is Sri Lanka's to lose.
Sri Lanka comfortably placed at 131/2 in 23 overs. Who can Pakistan turn to? Should Fawad Alam, with his slow left-armers, be given a go? Is time to bring on Ajmal and keep him going?
FOUR! Thirimanne guides Talha through the vacant slip cordon to keep the tempo and reach his fifty. He went onto double the score against Pakistan in their previous encounter. What has Misbah got up his sleeve now?
FOUR! And another one! This time its courtesy the masterful Jayawardene who late cuts that through point. Sri Lanka motoring along and Pakistan need a moment of inspiration.
FOUR! Lucky boundary for Thirimanne and Sri Lanka as Gul fails to read the spin on that one at square leg! Sri Lanka move to 114/2 in 21 overs.
FOUR! This time Jayawardene skips down the pitch to hoick Hafeez over long on for a boundary! Pakistan's score seems at least 30-40 runs short now. SL 102/2 in 19 overs
SIX! Afridi drags this half-way down the pitch and Jayawardene makes him pay!
Jaywardene has scores of 0, 14, 9 and 13 in the last four innings. So he is due if the law of averages is to be taken into account. Will he fire today? SL 87/2 in 17 overs.
FOUR! Shahid Afridi induces the edge but there's no one in the slips! Jayawardene gets another boundary, a streaky one though. Sri Lanka move to 86/2 in 16 overs.
FOUR! Bad bowling by Mohammad Talha, who is bowling at good pace but struggling with the control! Pakistan need to maintain this little period of resurgence!
FOUR! Jaywardene survives the hat trick ball, Thirimanne edges one through fine leg! What an eventful over, six runs and two wickets! Ajmal into his groove!
WICKET! And another one! Sri Lanka's rock, the in-form Sangakkara falls first ball. Ajmal deceived the master batsman in the flight to catch him right in front of the wickets. Sanga shakes his head as he walks off!
WICKET! Ajmal strikes! Perera's charmed life comes to an end as he charges down the wicket but misses the sharp off-break, Akmal whips off the bails in a flash! This ought to slow down Sri Lanka's momentum somewhat. Sangakkara in.
SIX! Sharjeel Khan caught that one but wasn't mindful of the ropes! He will surely get a word or two from Misbah! It was the danger man Perera!
FOUR! Perera running away with the show here! Junaid Khan the victim now as this one is blazed over mid-wicket for four!
Ominous signs for Pakistan, no juice in the pitch, the ball coming on nicely! It looks pretty comfortable here for Sri Lanka as Misbah brings in Saeed Ajmal into the attack early today. Ajmal's flown under the radar in this event so far, is today going to be his day?
FOUR! The Hafeez experiment does not seem to be working as Perera punches that one through the covers! Junaid Khan comes in from the other end.
FOUR! Gul has given away 24 runs from his three overs as Perera finds the fine-leg boundary this time! SL 35/0 in 6 overs.
FOUR! Gul looks helpless! It's Perera who powers this one through the leg side! Pakistan seem to have no answer to this assault!
FOUR! And another one! This time the ball travels over the head over the slip fielders, Gul leaking runs. Pakistan startled as Sri Lanka move to 22/0 in 4 overs.
FOUR! Uppercut! The in-form Lahiru Thirimanne gets on his toes to pick Umar Gul over point. The Lankans have come out with some intent.
FOUR! Sri Lanka have started with a bang here, 14/0 in the first three overs.
More love for Fawad:
I repeat: Fawad Alam has officially replaced Fawad Khan from Humsafar as most popular Fawad in Pakistan.— Saad Haroon (@Saad_Haroon) March 8, 2014
Just a single off the last ball as Pakistan fight back to post 260/5! It has been a great comeback by the defending champions to recover from 3/18 and it largely been made possible by the valiant Fawad Alam whose first ODI century (114*) has pushed the team to a more than a competitive total in the final. Misbah (65) and Umar Akmal (59) were the other major contributors to the Pakistan innings which was put on the backfoot very early by Malinga (10-56-5). Pakistan will probably come out after the break with a lot of confidence and some momentum behind them. It's been all about the chase in this tournament, let's see how Sri Lanka respond.
WICKET! Akmal deceived by the Malinga slower one. The batsman played across the line to that one but the ball took the edge of the blade to fall safely in the hands of the cover fielder!
FOUR! Fawad has an almighty swing and this one falls safely towards the vacant fine-leg boundary. PAK 251/4 in 49 overs. How many will they get in the last over?
FOUR! And now Akmal brings up his fifty with a boundary, a slice through the off side. He follows it up by throwing the kitchen sink at Perera for another boundary, this time over mid-off! PAK 243/4 in 48 overs.
FOUR! Akmal ends that Malinga over with an Inzamamesque late cut that beats short third-man! 15 runs have come off that over as Pakistan move to 226/4 in 47 overs!
FOUR! Akmal jabs Malinga over mid-wicket for two fours! Not many have come off Malinga today but the "Slinga" under some pressure now!
DROPPED! Fawad tries to power one over mid-off as Silva mistimes his jump to floor that one!
Perera and Malinga have kept it tight here with their barrage of yorker, only 12 runs coming off the last two overs. Will Afridi get a hit today? How will he fare against Malinga who still has 2 overs up his sleeve?
FOUR! Fawad picks up the slower one from Lakmal this time, and swivels to hit this one through square leg! The 78 not out is Fawad's highest ODI score as Pakistan a move on. PAK 183/4 in 42 overs.
SIX! Fawad on a six-hitting rampage by his standards, his second one of the innings. He had only 3 in his ODI career before this!
FOUR! Akmal spots Perera's slower one and slams it over mid-off's head for a four before cutting one through the right of point! Good control by the batsman but Perera seems to have lost it! Back to back boundaries.
Does Umar Akmal bat too low down the order? Find out Pakistan coach Moin Khan's thoughts on the the batsman here.
Pakistan move to 150/4 in 38 overs as Gavaskar reminds everyone against 'what a special talent Umar Akmal' is. The young Akmal will have to come good today but he has to contend with Malinga who seems to be in complete command at the moment.
FOUR! Fawad continues to his good work, launching Senanayake towards the vacant long on boundary once again! How many can Pakistan get in the final push?
WICKET! Malinga gets another one and its the prized-wicket of Misbah this time! Just as Pakistan were looking to take off, the Sri Lankan ace strikes. Misbah went for the big one but did not get enough on it, Perera takes a simple catch at long on. PAK 140/4 in 36.4 overs.
SIX! Misbah picks up Senanayake for a huge six this time, same area but different result! 13 runs from the over for Pakistan but many more needed to push the team out of the hole. PAK 138/3 in 36 overs.
FOUR! Fawad heaves one over long on once again for a much needed boundary!
SIX! Fawad slams Lakmal over long on for a maximum! The left-handed street-fighter notches up his 6th ODI fifty off 91 balls.
DROPPED! Fawad Alam survives but a very tough chance for Sangakkara this. Fawad gave Lakmal the charge but ended up getting a thick edge which thudded into the left glove of the keeper. PAK 114/3 in 33 overs.
FOUR! Misbah sweeps Silva for back to back boundaries to bring up Pakistan's 100 in the 31st over. One feels this pair will need to hang around for 10-15 more overs to raise Pakistan's hopes in the final.
Pakistan move to 88/3 in 27 overs as Chaturanga de Silva continues with his slow left-armers. There isn't much spin on offer at the moment. How will the Pakistani spinners fare with that little bit of dew in the evening?
Why it is fun to support Pakistan < Interesting write up by Indian journalist who doesn't mind saying "Pakistan Zindabad" occasionally.
“To me, being consistent is the main thing. I have managed to remain consistent and maintain a healthy strike rate through my own style of batting and there is no reason why I should change it,” Fawad Alam said before the match. He will certainly have to follow that script today if Pakistan are to put up anything competitive on the board today.
FOUR! Fawad follows it up with a perfect straight drive! Is this the push Pakistan were looking for?
SIX! Misbah pulls out a big one out of nowhere! Perera pitched it up and the Pakistani captain, in his typical style, took a step back and launched this one over midwicket! PAK 67/3 in 22 overs.
Some nervous moments as Misbah and Fawad steal some singles. Pakistan move to 51/3 from 18 overs. This is the slowest fifty for Pakistan in the tournament but the situation demands it. And according to Misbah "Afridi needs merely to 20-30 balls" to make a difference at the end.
"I would really enjoyed bowling against Fawad Alam...he moves way too much." -former Pakistan bowling great Wasim Akram. Pakistan inch to 40/3 in 15 overs.
After Thisara Perera's maiden in the 12th over, captain Angelo Mathews now comes into the attack. He may seem harmless but will keep attacking the stumps and make life difficult for the batsmen. Have Pakistan got it wrong with the toss? It's the kind of pitch where the batsmen will have to really grind it out to get runs. PAK 37/3 in 13 overs.
"I'm surprised Fawad Alam has not been a regular in the Pakistan side." -Indian batting legend Sunil Gavaskar. Fawad has a FC avg of 55.87, 39.82 in ODIs.
FOUR! Misbah gets in on the act now! Pakistan pick off 9 runs off that Senanayake over to move to 37/3 in 11 overs!
FOUR! Fawad cuts Senanayake through the off, that was a gift! Pakistan could do well push the run rate with the spinner on.
Misbah has been run out twice already in the tournament and with Fawad as his partner it'll be interesting to see how things pan out.
FOUR! And Fawad obliges, sweetly timed boundary through the covers that.
Musician Salman Ahmed laments Team Green's performance so far:
Pak needs to dig themselves out of this deep hole & score 260+, Misbah has to bat till the 40th over & take the score to 170-5. #PakvSL— salman ahmad (@sufisal) March 8, 2014
Malinga the magician takes Hafeez & Pakistan 18/3 in 5! This is not a T-20, have to bat 50 overs,Misbah! #AsiaCup2014— salman ahmad (@sufisal) March 8, 2014
Pakistan held up here at 2.5 runs an over and Sachitara Senanayake comes into the attack. He's got the drift going for him straight away and it'll be interesting to see whether Misbah and Fawad go after him.
Fawad Alam now joins Misbah at the crease as Malinga ends the fifth over with figures of 3-12-3. This is far from the start that Pakistan would've wished for and it seems the lower order will have to play a different kind of a role today. Batsmen to come Umar Akmal and Shahid Afridi.
A lot of anger spewing for Pakistan's top order batsmen right now. A few 'clean' tweets below:
Lakmal getting some movement here off the pitch and troubling Hafeez in his "weak zone". Captain Misbah-ul-Haq, the new man at the crease, has a few words with his deputy. Misbah's 73 against Sri Lanka in the group stages has been his only solid contribution in the Asia Cup but this may as well be the occasion.
WICKET! And he has, this time its the in-form Shehzad! What a start for Malinga! Pakistan well and truly under the hammer in the final and what seemed to be an innocuous pitch has already accounted for two wickets. PAK 17/2 in 3 overs.
Interesting stat: Malinga has picked up 15 wickets in the first over of an innings. He pitching the ball up to start off with, so there may be more in the offing for him.
FOUR! Ahmed Shehzad, after having a sighter for the first couple of balls, blazes this one through the left of point!
Mohammad Hafeez, who's had a solid run in the Asia Cup, is the new man in, Suranga Lakmal starts from the other end. The pitch for today's game is flat as expected and does not seem to have any kind of pace in it.
WICKET! Malinga gets his revenge as Sharjeel mistimes one to midwicket. Soft dismissal that! PAK 8/1 after the first over.
FOUR! Another boundary, looks like the little time away from the game has done Sharjeel good. This time a little bit more power as the ball goes races through the point area for four.
FOUR! Lasith Malinga to starts proceedings for Sri Lanka and is picked up by Sharjeel Khan for a boundary straight away!
Sri Lanka left out spinner Ajantha Mendis who made way for paceman Lasith Malinga. Sri Lanka have an impressive record of winning the title four times and have been runners-up on six occasions. They won all the four matches in this tournament.
Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (capt), Kusal Perera, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Lahiru Thirimanne, Thisara Perera, Ashan Priyanjan, Lasith Malinga, Sachithra Senanayake, Chaturanga de Silva, Suranga Lakmal.
Allrounder Shahid Afridi has been declared fit as Pakistan won the toss and opted to bat in the final of the Asia Cup against Sri Lanka in Dhaka. Pakistan, defending the title, made two changes as left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman and batsman Sohaib Maqsood were left out. In comes opener Sharjeel Khan and paceman Junaid Khan.
Pakistan: Misbah-ul Haq (captain), Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Sharjeel Khan, Fawad Alam, Shahid Afridi, Umar Akmal, Junaid Khan, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Talha.