The pre match hype to international finals steeped in that adrenaline pumping lively cricketing feeling of the charged up player positivity and crowd expectancy sees Sri Lanka’s Dasun Shanaka led team coined the Lions and Pakistan’s Babar Azam led charges flexing their muscles in that whopping US $ 200,000 high stakes countdown to Asia’s T20 cup grand finale that unfolds in the United Arab Emirates picturesque Dubai International Cricket Stadium tonight in a do or die fling for the trophy glitter and big dinero that it carries. Verily, do or die it is to both sides that will vie to break long running hoodoo in an extravaganza that started as a 50-over subsequently trimmed to the shorter version flying fast fad 20 overs that has come to change cricket on its head. With reigning champions and highest winning India knocked out Dubai where Sri Lanka is playing hosts to the tournament will be the defining last line to a fired up Dasun Shanaka’s Lions hell bent on breaking a 8-year old jinx.
Indeed, the Lankans by all accounts look all keyed to roar their way to the big spoils having clinically crushed Pakistan a day ago in a dress rehearsal 5-wicket canter. That it has been a reincarnation from the innocuous of a 105-run humiliation by Afghanistan in the tournament opener to rolling over India, Pakistan and Bangladesh has insulated Sri Lanka the top favourites. The hugely buoyant factor to standing a step away from laying hands on the Asia Cup is the freshness of having brought down Pakistan with relative ease.
The intensified heat to today’s showdown will be the fact that Sri Lanka last won the trophy in 2014 defeating Pakistan in the final by 5 wickets in Bangladesh. Babar Azam’s men therein will be striving to surmount the defeatist odds of the past and present to taking home the trophy Pakistan last won a decade ago in 2012 beating Bangladesh by 2runs in Bangladesh.
While Sri Lanka’s final thrust is to an anointing that has eluded the country of a major title as long as their rivals, it is as much a final fling for Pakistan to atone for a long slumber. Indeed, it is a compelling similar backdrop to that final charge for both sides. To Sri Lanka this final will be the test of strength to a new generation outfit that has begun to sign born of an arduous struggle by the country to regain a lost image accentuated on youth at the village grassroots level. The ranks may on the surface not seem to boast of big stars, but Sri Lanka certainly packs a vibrant eleven armed with the skills to cut loose.
Of course, Pakistan is a side as uncertain as the weather and does possess match winning talent and will certainly be no pushovers. Shanaka and his charges will do well not to be carried away by Friday’s win.