DUBAI   -   A brilliant performance from Sri Lanka helped them beat Pakistan by 23 runs to clinch the Asia Cup crown here at the jam-packed Dubai Interna­tional Cricket Stadium on Sun­day night. 

Winning the toss, Pakistan came out all guns blazing in the final. Naseem Shah got the ball rolling by bowling a beauty to dismiss Kusal Men­dis for a duck. Pathum Nissan­ka also could not carry on his brilliant run, with Haris Rauf getting the better of him on 8. Rauf would then bowl a sizzler to send Danushka Gunathila­ka packing for 1. If Sri Lanka believed they would get a re­prieve, the spinners would then chip in with a couple of wickets for Pakistan. If­tikhar Ahmed got the wick­et of Dhananjaya de Silva for 28, who up to that point was looking in good nick. Skipper Dasun Shanaka also couldn’t contribute much, with Sha­dab Khan bowling him for 2. At the halfway mark, Pakistan were well and truly on top. 

Sri Lanka would then launch a brilliant counter of their own, with Bhanuka Rajapak­sa and Wanindu Hasaranga leading the charge. The pair put on a partnership of 58 runs, playing some incredi­ble shots against a high-quali­ty bowling attack. Their stand would come off only 36 deliv­eries, getting Sri Lanka well and truly back in the game. 

Hasaranga would be dis­missed by Rauf, who had his third scalp for 36, but it was a job done well. Rajapaksa would then unleash carnage, bringing up his half-century while upping the ante. Cha­mika Karunaratne gave him brilliant support from the other end, rotating the strike as the pair put up a stand of 54*. Rajapaksa would have some luck, being dropped a couple of times but he made full use of it. Rajapaksa would end up with a knock of 71* off 45 deliveries, as Sri Lanka re­covered from 58/5 to post a fighting total of 170/6 on the board. It was not the perfect start for Sri Lanka as Dilshan Madhushanka bowled an 11-ball over, conceding 12. But Dasun Shanaka’s side kept their cool, tightening up the screws after that. The pres­sure yielded brilliant results as Pramod Madushan would get two wickets in two de­liveries. Babar Azam would be his first scalp for 5 fol­lowed by Fakhar Zaman for a first-ball duck. Mohammad Rizwan and Iftikhar Ahmed would then pick up the man­tle of rebuilding the Pakistan innings, as the match was on a knife’s edge at the halfway mark. With Pakistan’s score at 68/2, it was anyone’s con­test to win. Just when it was time for Pakistan to put the foot down on the accelerator, Sri Lanka bowled and fielded with excellence. They dried up the runs, increasing the pressure while upping the re­quired run rate. This paid off with Iftikhar first perishing for 32, with Madushan get­ting his third scalp. Moham­mad Nawaz too couldn’t de­liver the big hits, falling for 6 against Karunaratne. It was now up to Rizwan, who was the set batter to guide Paki­stan home, as they needed 69 off 28 deliveries. After bring­ing up his half-century.