AFP Sport takes a look at five things we learned from the Six Nations tournament, which was a precursor to next month’s T20 World Cup in Australia.
Pundits gave Sri Lanka little chance of making the Super Four after an embarrassing one-sided loss to Afghanistan, but five successive wins have taken them to Asian Cup glory.
Sri Lanka beat favorites India in the Super Four and then beat Pakistan twice to give the young side confidence ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia, where they will have to go through a qualifying round.
But Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who managed an unbeaten 71 in the final, said he believed a rejuvenated Sri Lanka could build on the momentum of their Asian Cup triumph and go all the way. mistress of the T20.
Pakistan’s bowling attack went without spearheading injured pace Shaheen Shah Afridi, but another Shah, teenager Naseem, rose to the occasion.
The 19-year-old’s quick pace saw him take seven wickets in five matches and he also won the game with the bat – his last two sixes in the thrilling victory over Afghanistan took his side through to the final.
Shah signed off the Asian Cup in typical fashion by taking a wicket in the opening leg of Sunday’s final, dramatically uprooting the stump of Kusal Mendis after Pakistan captain Babar Azam won the coin toss and picked to play bowling.
Virat Kohli was dropped on nothing by Pakistan’s Fakhar Zaman on the second ball he faced in the Asian Cup and the former India captain took full advantage of the reprieve.
Kohli went on to score 276 tournaments averaging 92, with his 122 uneliminated against Afghanistan becoming his first century for India in any format since November 2019. It was also his first triple-digit tally in a Twenty20 international tournament.
Kohli’s long batting slump had become a major talking point, but after taking a month-long hiatus from cricket ahead of the Asian Cup, he returned refreshed to silence the chatter.
Kohil also scored two 50s in five tournament legs and his Asian Cup tally was only surpassed by Pakistan’s Mohammad Rizwan, whose 55 in the final pushed him ahead with 281 points in six matches.
Mohammad Nabi’s side showed their clean ball skills as they fielded eventual champions Sri Lanka for 105 in the opening match, which Afghanistan won by eight wickets with almost 10 overs to spare.
Afghanistan then hammered Bangladesh and in the Super Four scared Pakistan before losing a wicket in the final of a moody clash.
Most of the team learned their cricket in refugee camps in Pakistan and they have come a long way since achieving Test status in 2017.
Nabi predicted they will “come back stronger” for the T20 World Cup where Afghanistan will be looking to upset the established powerhouses of cricket.
Versatile player Shakib Al Hasan has returned as captain after bowing to an ultimatum from the Bangladesh Cricket Board to cancel an agreement with a betting site.
But his presence did little to change Bangladesh’s dismal T20 record as they failed to qualify for the Super Four after losing group matches to Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.
Shakib returned numbers of 1-13 with his left-arm rotation against Afghanistan and then made 24 in the Sri Lanka loss, Bangladesh’s 15th T20 defeat in their last matches, but insisted on the fact that his team had a “plan in place” to improve.