Asia Cup 2022: Sri Lanka’s hero Bhanuka Rajapaksa dedicates title to ‘crisis-hit’ countrymen

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Sri
Lanka
defeated
Pakistan
by
23
runs
in
the
summit
clash
on
Sunday
(September
11)
night
to
clinch
the
Asia
Cup
crown
after
2014,
their
sixth
overall.

Batting
first,
Sri
Lanka
were
reduced
to
67
for
5,
but
made
a
brilliant
turnaround
riding
on
Rajapaksa
(71
off
45
balls)
and
Wanindu
Hasaranga
(36
off
21
balls)
to
reach
a
competitive
170
for
6.

“We
always
wanted
to
show
the
world

a
couple
of
decades
back,
we
had
aggression
in
our
side,
and
we
wanted
to
create
those
moments
(again)
as
a
unit,”
a
beaming
Rajapaksa
said
at
the
post
match
press
conference.

“Looking
forward,
we
want
to
keep
up
this
momentum
ahead
of
the
World
Cup.
With
the
crisis
happening
back
home,
this
is
a
tough
time
for
all
the
Sri
Lankans,
but
hope
we
brought
some
smiles
on
the
faces
of
our
people.”

“This
is
to
the
whole
nation;
they
were
waiting
for
this
for
so
long,”
a
smiling
Rajapaksa
added.

Sri
Lanka
clinched
the
much-needed
Asia
Cup
title
in
the
backdrop
of
the
country’s
worst
economic
crisis
coupled
with
political
unrest.

Sitting
beside
Rajapaksha
was
Sri
Lanka’s
captain
Dasun
Shanaka
and
the
31-year-old
praised
his
teammates
for
responding
so
well
throughout
the
tournament
despite
losing
to
Afghanistan
in
their
tournament
opener.

“After
that
first
loss,
we
had
a
serious
discussion,”
Shanaka
said.

“We
knew
we
had
the
talent,
but
it
was
about
applying
those
in
game
scenarios
and
all
the
players
stood
up.
It’s
the
environment
we
created
as
a
team
and
coaching
staff
that
has
paid
off,”
he
added.

The
Sri
Lankan
skipper
also
had
a
message
for
the
fans
back
home
following
the
title
win.

“Believe
in
our
cricketers.
A
lot
of
bad
things
are
going
around.
As
cricketers,
they
too
should
enjoy
their
lives
as
well,
not
spreading
bad
things.
They
have
private
lives
too.
Keep
believing,
that
is
the
key.
As
a
captain,
I
give
confidence
to
the
players,
(whatever)
I
can.
I
can’t
ask
more
than
that,”
Shanaka
said.

Shanaka
further
said
that
the
Asia
Cup
win
could
be
a
stepping
stone
for
greater
things
to
come
for
Sri
Lanka
cricket,
which
is
going
through
a
transition
phase
for
a
long
time.

“Even
two-three
years
back,
the
team
used
to
play
good
cricket,
but
the
winning
factor
wasn’t
there,”
he
said.

“This
could
be
the
turnaround
in
our
cricket,
this
lot
can
continue
to
play
for
five-six
years,
which
is
a
very
good
sign
as
well.

“The
World
Cup
qualifiers
will
also
help
because
it
will
allow
us
to
play
in
that
conditions
before
the
main
tournament
happens.
It
will
be
really
good
(opportunity
for
us),”
he
added.

With
a
morale-boosting
Asia
Cup
silverware
now
in
their
kitty,
Shanaka
said
the
same
unit
can
achieve
greater
success
in
future.

“It’s
not
like
that.
When
it
comes
to
India-Pakistan,
we
know
it’s
a
different
game.
Our
cricketing
history
is
also
good,
so
we
didn’t
have
anything
to
prove
about
us
being
a
good
team,”
he
said.

“The
only
thing
is
we
weren’t
probably
ranked
high
enough,
but
with
this
team,
we
can
do
better
and
become
that
high-ranking
team,”
Shanaka
signed
off
with
a
smile.

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