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07-Mar-2014 09:15:00 GMT
Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Asia Cup final, Mirpur

Pakistan Take on Sri Lanka in Asia Cup Final

Dhaka: Defending champions Pakistan will have to contend with minor injury issues to key players Shahid Afridi and Umar Gul as they take on a consistent Sri Lanka in the final of the Asia Cup tournament on Saturday.

Afridi, who has played a pivotal role in turning around the fortunes of Pakistan in this tournament, has suffered a grade one hip flexor strain and his availability will be known only on Saturday.

Pacer Gul is little bit "stiff" and Sharjeel Khan along with opener Ahmed Shehzad also have some niggles, going into the title clash.

The Sri Lankans, who had defeated the defending champions in the tournament opener, are yet to lose a match in the mega event of the sub-continent and they would hope that their campaign culminates with the title.

Pakistan's chances would depend on how they tame seasoned Kumar Sangakkara and handle the bowling of pacer Lasith Malinga and spinner Ajantha Mendis.

It was Malinga, who had taken key wickets of Misbah-ul-Haq and Afridi in their previous clash and Sangakkara is in prime form in this tournament. He has hit one century and two fifties and his rare failure was against Bangladesh on Thursday.

Pakistan, on the other hand have wriggled out of difficult situations to reach their second successive Asia Cup final and a lot of credit goes to Afridi for his fiery knocks of 34 and 59 against India and Bangladesh respectively.

Those two knocks not only revived the team's hopes of their title defence but also injected the much-needed spark and life to what had been a low key Asia Cup affair.

After shattering India's hopes, the 'boom-boom' Afridi returned to devastate the host country as he led Pakistan to a great win, chasing Bangladesh's highest ever 326, with his 18-ball half-century.

Those two knocks could not have come at a better time for Afridi who was facing a lot of flak back home for his string of failures. The all-rounder has single-handedly made Pakistan favourites against Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka would look to do the things quietly with all the buzz surrounding Afridi.

Lankans would hope that the duo of Malinga and Mendis manage to rein in Afridi. It would be an interesting battle between Afridi against Malinga's toe-crushing yorkers and Mendis in his guile with the doosras.

For Sri Lanka, the form of Mahela Jayawardene would be a worry. He has managed just 36 runs from four innings. Pakistan would want their skipper Misbah-ul-Haq (78 runs) to get back among runs.

The best thing for the Lankans is that Sangakkara is in the middle of a dream run in Bangladesh as the senior pro is leading the Asia Cup run chart with 248 runs at an average of 248, something that has come on the back of his maiden triple century in Test series.

Teams from:

Misbah-ul-Haq (Capt.), Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Sohaib Maqsood, Fawad Alam, Abdur Rehman, Shahid Afridi, Umar Akmal (wk), Umar Gul, Mohammad Talha, Saeed Ajmal, Bilawal Bhatti, Junaid Khan, Anwar Ali and Sharjeel Khan.

Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (Capt.), Kusal Perera, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Mahela Jayawardene, Ashan Priyanjan, Angelo Mathews, Chaturanga de Silva, Thisara Perera, Sachithra Senanayake, Ajantha Mendis, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga, Dinesh Chandimal and Dhammika Prasad.

Stats & trivia

  • If Sri Lanka win they will be most successfull team in Asia Cup with India (5-times).

Match facts
Saturday March 8, 2014 (day/night)
Start time 1400 local (0800 GMT)

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