Best Performers for Sri Lanka at the Asia Cup 2022

Asia Cup 2022


After suffering a terrible defeat to start the tournament, Sri Lanka made one of the greatest comebacks in cricket history to clinch the Asia Cup for a sixth time.

Before the tournament, no one ever gave this young bunch of players a chance of pulling this off but the collective effort of the whole squad and the coaching staff showed the whole world that Sri Lanka Cricket is up and running once.

Despite it being an all-round effort by the team to win the competition, there were definitely some stars who stood out throughout the tournament.

  • Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva

 Runs – 66

Strike Rate – 150.00

Wickets – 9

Catches – 4

The superstar of Sri Lanka Cricket, who played a huge role in this renaissance is Wanindu Hasaranga. He started all this back in 2019 against Pakistan and yesterday he ended a full cycle of this comeback story against the same opposition by winning the Player of the Tournament award in Sri Lanka’s first major title win in 8 years. Hasaranga, who didn’t have the best of starts to the tournament, chipped in when the team needed him the most. He took only 3 wickets in the first 4 games and scored just 20 runs in 4 innings.

But then came Pakistan, a team he loves to play against. He rattled the Pakistani batters with a 3-wicket haul in the dead rubber Super 4 encounter and took another 3 wicket haul during the all-important final. To go with that he also scored a brilliant cameo of 36 off 21 deliveries and aided Bhanuka Rajapakse to take Sri Lanka from 58/5 to 170/6. And the impact he has on the field is truly next level.

  • Bhanuka Rajapakse

Runs – 191

Strike Rate – 149.21

Fours – 15

Sixes – 9

The middle order muscle Sri Lanka were searching for during the last few years has finally arrived and he is becoming a big time match winner. Bhanuka Rajapakse had a lot of issues and clashes with the Sri Lankan Cricket board a few months back but luckily for the country, everything ended well and Rajapakse is becoming a cult hero in Sri Lanka and even outside of the island as well. Referred to as “Raja” in India, he is managing to gain fans day by day with his big hitting and match winning knocks. Throughout this tournament, whenever Sri Lanka needed someone to dig them out of a hole or needed quick runs to pull off a chase, he was always there. He started the tournament well with a 38 against Afghanistan and although he failed to make an impact against Bangladesh, during the super 4 phase he became a menace to the opposition bowlers. His 31 off 14 against Afghanistan, 25 off 17 against India, 24 off 19 against Pakistan and to cap things off he produced probably the best knock of his career by scoring a classy, yet destructive unbeaten knock of 71 from 45 which ultimately won him the Player of the Final award. With Rajapakse in fine form, things are looking really good for Sri Lanka in the T20 format.

  • Pathum Nissanka

Runs – 173

50s – 2

Catches – 5

The calm and composed pocket dynamite opener of Sri Lanka, Pathum Nissanka. There are so many good things to say about this young man who has a great head on his shoulders. He knows when to keep calm and he knows when to open the floodgates and go after the bowling. Before the tournament, because of his poor form during the Invitational League, we saw a lot of people doubting this youngster. But when the player is seriously talented, you simply don’t judge them in such a manner. Yes, he did take some time early in the tournament but during the 3 important Super 4 games against Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, he rose to the occasion and batted with a lot of responsibility. Nissanka scored 35 against Afghanistan while constructing a stand of 62 for the first wicket and then scored 52 against India where he and Mendis compiled 97 runs for the opening wicket. Nissanka then showed a lot of resilience to score an unbeaten 55 against Pakistan to get the first win over Pakistan which gave Sri Lanka the psychological advantage before the final. Along with his batting, his ability under the high ball in the field was a treat to watch throughout the tournament as he ended Asia Cup taking the joint most catches with 5.

  • Kusal Mendis

Runs – 155

50s – 2

Strike Rate – 156.56

Catches – 3

It’s fair to say that Kusal Mendis’ quest in resurrecting his career has been a fantastic one. Prior to the Asia Cup he won the Player of the Series award against Australia during the ODI series and he played a vital role in Sri Lanka’s triumph at the Asia Cup. Mendis, who finally got the opportunity to open the innings, performed up to expectations during three crucial chases against Bangladesh, Afghanistan & India.

The highlight from those 3 knocks was how he handled the key spinners from each side. Against Bangladesh he punished Shakib Al Hasan and versus Afghanistan he destroyed Rashid Khan in his very first over by depositing him for two sixes. And against Chahal he continued the streak of aggression in the same way. His tactic of putting the main spinner of the opposition under pressure early in the spell laid the foundation for all those 3 run chases.

  • Dasun Shanaka

Runs – 111

Strike Rate – 138.75

Wickets – 2

Captain Marvellous Dasun Shanaka who took over the reins as the Sri Lankan white ball skipper amidst chaos has become the hero of an entire nation. How he took a team of youngsters and turned them into the champions of Asia is remarkable in every sense of the word. To go with his brilliant captaincy, he also provided the team with two gutsy knocks against Bangladesh & India. Although he couldn’t finish things off against Bangladesh, it was he who gave all the momentum during the middle overs of the chase and during the Indian fixture he made sure to be there at the finish by hammering an unbeaten 33 from 18 deliveries. Shanaka continues to pile up trophies as a captain and there’s every indication that his team will only go from strength to strength.

  • Maheesh Theekshana

Wickets – 6

Economy – 6.75

Catches – 3

Since making his T20I debut against South Africa last year, Maheesh Theekshana has quickly become an integral part of the Sri Lankan T20I setup. Theekshana who made a name for himself also became a sought-after bowler in franchise cricket thanks to his ability of bowling with a tight line and length in the powerplay. But with his experience of playing at the IPL, Theekshana’s game has evolved and he is mastering the ability of bowling at the death. Against Afghanistan he gave away only 8 runs in the 17th and 19th overs and that restricted the Afghans from reaching a total over 190. His economy of 6.75 after bowling mainly at the powerplay and the death speaks volumes about the ability and consistency this youngster has shown across a tournament in which Sri Lanka played 5 games. With Theekshana there, it also gave more room for the strike bowler Hasaranga to take wickets. At the tournament, Theekshana conceded more than 30 runs only once and that was the first match which Sri Lanka lost against Afghanistan.

  • Chamika Karunaratne

Runs – 66

Wickets – 7

Catches – 2

In the absence of Dushmantha Chameera, Sri Lanka had to go with a brand-new bowling attack with Chamika Karunaratne being the only experienced one. And it’s fair to say that Karunaratne did a very good job. With the ball in hand he bowled three quality spells, one against Bangladesh where he took 2 for 32 and then against India registering figures of 2 for 27. At the all-important final, he clinched 2 wickets once again for 33 runs with the stunning last wicket to win Sri Lanka the trophy as well. Also, with the bat in hand he batted well in the opening fixture and complemented Bhanuka Rajapakse to play his part in a 54-run stand for the 7th wicket in the finals. With Karunaratne improving both batting and bowling aspects of his game and the added feature of his brilliance in the field, he is slowly becoming the fast-bowling all-rounder Sri Lanka were searching for.

  • Dilshan Madhushanka

Wickets – 6

The rising star hailing from Hambantota, showed a lot of promise as the stand-alone left arm pacer in the side. His ability to swing the ball with a speed of 145kmph looked really promising and the fact he has a deceptive slower ball around a speed of 100kmph further strengthens his value in the side. The 21-year-old in his very first international tour bowled his best spell against a star studded Indian top order where he took 3 for 24. Madhushanka rattling the stumps of the great Virat Kohli is a scene that he and the fans of Sri Lanka Cricket won’t forget for a very long time.

  • Dhananjaya de Silva

Runs – 37

Wickets – 1

Economy – 4.40

Dhananjaya de Silva was not initially picked in the playing 11 for Sri Lanka but with the failure of Charith Asalanka, DDS got the opportunity and it made a lot of difference. DDS used his intelligent and tactical bowling style to keep the runs down especially against left handers. His economy of below 4.50 in the 5 overs he delivered had a huge impact in both games. Having someone as classy as DDS is a plus point for Sri Lanka’s top order which was clearly on display during the final where he played a very good hand even though the early wickets fell. His 28 may not seem much, but that gave Bhanuka Rajapakse the time to stay in the middle without going after the bowling straightaway. DDS will certainly be a top contender to bat at number 3 next month in Australia and having someone like him will be a key factor for Sri Lanka in order to make an impression at the World Cup.

  • Pramod Madushan

Wickets – 6

Pramod Madushan toiled hard in the domestic arena to find a place in the international setup. And when he got the opportunity he made sure not to disappoint as years of hard work paid off. Madushan took 2 wickets on his debut and at the finals he took 4 wickets which included the back-to-back double blows where Babar Azam and Fakhar Azam departed. Madushan also broke the partnership between Mohommad Rizwan and Iftikhar Ahmed just when they were starting to look dangerous. Just like Madhushanka, this went down as a memorable first tour for Pramod Madushan as well and it won’t be a surprise if he finds a place in the touring party to Australia next month.

Honourable Mentions

Ashen Bandara

With Rajapakse not being available to field after the fine knock in the final, Sri Lanka went to Ashen Bandara, the fastest and most accurate fielder in the island at the moment. His attacking style of fielding and the thunderbolt throws from the outfield, prevented Pakistan from taking at least 15-20 runs. Due to this fabulous effort, Bandara also won the best catch of the final award.

Danushka Gunathilake

Yes, Dhanushka Gunathilake had a really bad time as a batter but his display of brilliant fielding at the finals was simply amazing to watch. Gunathilake’s fielding was almost on par with Bandara, saving a lot of runs and taking 2 very good catches.

Asitha Fernando

Asitha Fernando may have missed out on having a memorable tournament with the ball in hand, but when no one expected it, Fernando yielded some magic with the bat to take Sri Lanka over the line. His two fours, first against Ebadot Hossain and then in the last over against Mahedi Hasan. Those 10 runs Fernando scored will go down as the most valuable runs he has scored so far in his whole career.

So, as you can see, nearly everyone who featured in the playing XI made an impact in one way or another and that’s what champion sides actually look like. The transition of the Sri Lankan T20 team from falling to a level of playing at the ICC T20 World Cup Qualifiers to winning the Asia Cup this year has been one epic journey filled with a lot of amazing memories for the players and the fans both. Where Sri Lanka Cricket actually heads from here is still a question, but for the moment they can cherish this victory to the maximum.