Two weeks ago, Naseem Shah bowled a belter of a delivery to dismiss Indian opener KL Rahul on the batter’s first delivery of the game during the Group B clash. In the final of the Asia Cup on September 11, Naseem did a repeat of the dismissal – this time against Sri Lanka’s in-form opener Kusal Mendis. The Pakistan speedster removed Mendis on his first ball to inflict an early blow on Sri Lanka in the titular clash in Dubai.
Rested for Pakistan’s last Super 4 game against the same opponents, Naseem made a fresh return for the final and was on target straightaway, as he bowled a perfect inswinger that went through Mendis’ pad and bat, castling the stumps.
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Mendis had been among the runs for Sri Lanka in the top-order, scoring two half-centuries in the ongoing edition of the continental tournament. He scored 60 against Bangladesh in the group game which helped Sri Lanka secure a berth in the Super 4, and smashed another half-century in the win against India.
Incidentally, Mendis was also dismissed on a duck in Sri Lanka’s previous game against Pakistan.
Earlier, Pakistan had won the toss and opted to bowl in the final of the continental tournament. Shadab Khan, who had an injury scare after the side’s win against Afghanistan earlier this week, returned to the playing XI for Pakistan while Naseem replaced Hasan Ali.
Sri Lanka retained the same playing XI that includes an additional off-spinner in Dhananjaya de Silva to supplement Maheesh Theekshana and Wanindu Hasaranga. The island nation is a five-time Asia Cup champion while Pakistan has won the title twice.
Sri Lanka had qualified for the final of the Asia Cup after winning all three games of the Super 4; Pakistan, meanwhile, defeated arch-rivals India and Afghanistan in thrilling finishes to secure a passage to the title clash.
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