The final of the twelfth edition of the Asia Cup is slated to be played on 8th March between Pakistan and Sri Lanka at Dhaka. Let us look back on the previous finals of the continental ODI tournament.
1983-84 – No final was played. India won the inaugural tournament on account of beating both Sri Lanka (by 10 wickets) and Pakistan (by 54 runs) in a single round-robin format in Sharjah.
1985-86 – Sri Lanka beat Pakistan by 5 wickets at Colombo (SSC)
Sri Lanka made the most of holders India’s absence from the tournament by clinching the title with a win over Pakistan at the Sinhalese Sports Club. In a 45 over game, Pakistan were restricted to 191/9 after Duleep Mendis elected to field. Pakistan endured a disastrous start – they were 32/4 – before Javed Miandad staged a fightback with 67, adding 65 for the 6th wicket with Manzoor Elahi. Little-known pacer Kaushik Amalean took 4/46. Sri Lanka were 64/3 in reply but Aravinda de Silva (52) and Arjuna Ranatunga (57) sealed the deal with a 97-run fourth wicket stand. Though both were dismissed, Sri Lanka reached 195/5 in 42.2 overs. Abdul Qadir took 3/32.
1988-89 – India beat Sri Lanka by 6 wickets at Dhaka
India won their second title after a comprehensive win in the final at the Bangabandhu Stadium. Being put into bat, defending champions Sri Lanka were bowled out for only 176 in 43.2 overs in spite of a 53-run opening stand. No one got a substantial score, with Duleep Mendis’ 36 being the highest. Kris Srikkanth’s part-time off-spin fetched him 3/12. India got off to a brisk start, and their innings was built around an 84-run third wicket stand between Navjot Sidhu (76) and captain Dilip Vengsarkar (50*). Kapil Dev brought up the winning runs with a boundary as India reached 180/4 in 37.1 overs.
1990-91 – India beat Sri Lanka by 7 wickets at Calcutta
India hosted the tournament for the first time, and this time it was Pakistan who pulled out of it due to political reasons. With yet another facile win over Sri Lanka in the final, India secured their third title. In a game reduced to 45 overs, Mohammed Azharuddin decided to field. Disciplined bowling and fielding by the hosts saw Sri Lanka reach 92/3 before a 58-run partnership for the fourth wicket between Asanka Gurusinha and Arjuna Ranatunga (who top-scored with 49) steadied things.
But Kapil Dev (4/31) wrecked the middle and lower order as Sri Lanka went from 175/4 to 181/8, eventually ending at 204/9. Kapil took a hat-trick, dismissing Roshan Mahanama, Sanath Jayasuriya and Rumesh Ratnayake off successive balls. In reply, India slipped to 30/2, but Sanjay Manjrekar’s 75* and his stands of 91 and 84* with Sachin Tendulkar (53) and Azharuddin (54*) for the third and fourth wicket respectively ensured India reached 205/3 with 17 balls to spare.
1994-95 – India beat Sri Lanka by 8 wickets at Sharjah
The tournament returned to Sharjah but the pattern of the final was very much similar to the previous two editions. India completed a hat-trick of titles by swamping Sri Lanka by 8 wickets, after again electing to field. The Lankans were never really allowed to score freely and were kept to 230/7 off their 50 overs. Asanka Gurusinha top-scored with a solid 85, rescuing his side from a wobbly 89/4. Venkatesh Prasad and Anil Kumble took two wickets each.
The Indian openers fell early to make the score 58/2, but not before Sachin Tendulkar had laid the platform with a run-a-ball 41. There was to be no further success for Sri Lanka, as Navjot Sidhu (84*) and captain Mohammed Azharuddin (90*) put on an unbeaten association of 175 for the third wicket to guide India to 233/2 in just 41.5 overs and yet another easy Asia Cup victory.
1997 – Sri Lanka beat India by 8 wickets at Colombo (RPS)
Sri Lanka took full advantage of home conditions to turn the tables on holders India in the final at the Premadasa Stadium and record their second Asia Cup title. Indian skipper Sachin Tendulkar elected to bat first, but soon his side were in trouble at 59/3 with the top three back in the hut. Tendulkar (53) and Mohammed Azharuddin (81) then revived the innings with a fourth-wicket partnership of 109, with the latter putting on a further 47 with Ajay Jadeja for the fifth wicket to give some much-needed impetus.
The eventual total was a competitive 239/7, Chaminda Vaas and Kumar Dharamsena taking two wickets apiece. The Sri Lankan opening pair of Sanath Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu then went hell for leather, adding 137 to shut out the Indians. Jayasuriya smashed 63 off only 52 balls. Captain Arjuna Ranatunga (62*) then hastened the win by adding an unbroken 96 for the third wicket with Atapattu, who stayed unbeaten on 84. Sri Lanka scored 240/2 in just 36.5 overs.
2000 – Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by 39 runs at Dhaka
The tournament returned to the Bangabandhu Stadium and Pakistan recorded their maiden triumph. Opener Saeed Anwar guided Pakistan with a sedate 82 after their captain Moin Khan elected to bat. Anwar shared a 68-run stand with Yousuf Youhana for the third wicket. When he got out, Sri Lanka had kept things pretty tight – the score was 173/4 in the 40th over. At that point, Moin joined Inzamam ul-Haq at the crease and the duo proceeded to bludgeon the bowlers. ‘Inzy’ made 72* off 88 balls while Moin clobbered 52* off just 31 balls as they put on an unbroken 104 for the fifth wicket in ten overs to help their side reach 277/4.
Sri Lanka stumbled to 46/3 in reply before Marvan Atapattu and Aravinda de Silva added 71 for the fourth wicket. Atapattu and Russel Arnold (41) then added 79 for the 5th wicket to give their side a chance. However the last five wickets fell for only 42, Atapattu being seventh out for an in-vain 100. Sri Lanka were bowled out for 238 in 45.2 overs. Wasim Akram, Mohammed Akram and Arshad Khan all picked up two wickets.
2004 – Sri Lanka beat India by 25 runs at Colombo (RPS)
Sri Lanka regained the trophy with their third title, again coming at home with a win over India in the final at the Premadasa Stadium. Sri Lanka slipped to 31/2 after deciding to bat before captain Marvan Atapattu and wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara stitched together a third-wicket stand of 116. India bowled with discipline even though 32 extras were conceded, and and regular wickets in the last 15 overs made sure that the hosts could not up the run-rate.
Sri Lanka ended up at 228/9 (Irfan Pathan and Sachin Tendulkar both took two wickets), though they would have had liked at least twenty runs more.But the Sri Lankan bowlers rose to the occasion and hardly allowed the Indians to bat freely. India limped to 62/3 in the 20th over. The spinners Sanath Jayasuriya (2/34) and Upul Chandana dried up the runs while also taking key wickets, and only Tendulkar (74) put up a fight. When he was out the score was 140/7 and the Indians were eventually restricted to 203/9.
2008 – Sri Lanka beat India by 100 runs at Karachi
Pakistan hosted the Asia Cup for the first time. Sri Lanka retained the title with a big win over India in the final at the National Stadium. Ishant Sharma (3/52) struck early blows to have Sri Lanka at 66/4, but veteran opener Sanath Jayasuriya feasted against his favourite opposition. He found a willing ally in Tillakaratne Dilshan, and the two raised a fifth-wicket partnership of 131 runs. Jayasuriya was fifth out for a typical 125 off 114 balls, hitting nine fours and five sixes. Valuable runs from the lower order helped Sri Lanka get to 273 in 49.5 overs.
Virender Sehwag (60 off 36 balls) then gave a rousing start to India until ‘mystery spinner’ Ajantha Mendis arrived. Mendis removed Sehwag off his second ball and went on to rip through the Indian batting line-up as they went from 76/1 in the 10th over to 173 all out in 39.3 overs. He ended with figures of 8-1-13-6, the best ever in the Asia Cup and his bamboozling spell helped Sri Lanka romp home by 100 runs to retain the title.
2010 – India beat Sri Lanka by 81 runs at Dambulla
India exacted revenge on the Lankans in the latter’s home turf of the Rangiri International Stadium to win the title for the first time since 1994. A solid batting display helped the Indians reach 268/6 after MS Dhoni opted to bat. Almost everyone contributed to a certain extent, with opener Dinesh Karthik’s 66 being the highest. Karthik put on 62 with Virat Kohli and 46 with Dhoni for the second and third wickets respectively to lay a strong platform. Lasith Malinga and Thilina Kandamby bagged two wickets each.
The Indian pace bowlers then severely dented Sri Lanka, as the hosts crashed to 51/5 in the 16th over, with the top five all dismissed and the match as good as over. Chamara Kapugedera (55) tried to revive things with a 53-run sixth wicket stand with Kandamby, but the result was never in doubt. Sri Lanka were bowled out for 187 in 44.4 overs. Ashish Nehra was the pick of the bowlers with 4/40, while Zaheer Khan and Ravindra Jadeja took two apiece.
2011-12 – Pakistan beat Bangladesh by 2 runs at Dhaka
This was by far the most exciting of all Asia Cup finals, played at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium in Mirpur. Bangladesh had entered their maiden final, delighting their passionate supporters. After electing to field, the hosts made regular inroads into the Pakistani batting while keeping the run-rare tight as well. Umar Akmal and Hammad Azam added 59 for the fifth wicket to rescue their side from 70/4, but both fell for 30 each within four runs to make the score 133/6. It was wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed who provided the late impetus, with an unbeaten 46 from 52 balls. Pakistan ended at 236/9, with the last wicket raising a crucial 30 runs. Abdur Razzak took 2/26.
Bangladesh got off to a confident start but then went from 68/0 to 81/3. Tamim Iqbal scored a 68-ball 60. Nasir Hossain and Shakib Al Hasan then shared an 89-run stand for the fourth wicket to give their team the momentum. But with the required rate rising, wickets began to fall. Shakib was fifth out for a 72-ball 68. It all boiled down to the final over, to be bowled by Aizaz Cheema (3/46) with the score 228/7. With four runs to win off two balls, Cheema bowled Razzak before only one run was managed off the last ball to leave Bangladesh at 234/8, breaking the hearts of the home crowd.