Asia Cup 2014 Final: Full Preview and Predictions for Sri Lanka vs. Pakistan

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistMarch 6, 2014

Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga, left, celebrates taking the wicket of Pakistan’s Bilawal Bhatti during the opening match of the Asia Cup one-day international cricket tournament between them in Fatullah, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. Sri Lanka won by 12 runs. (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad)
A.M. Ahad/Associated Press

Sri Lanka and Pakistan will go head-to-head in the final of the 2014 Asia Cup on Saturday in Dhaka, and deservedly so, as they have clearly been the best teams in the competition. 

Sri Lanka have won all their games in the round-robin group matches, while Pakistan were involved in a couple of tense finishes against India and the hosts Bangladesh.

Pakistan will be hoping to defend the title they won in 2012 but it will be tough as Sri Lanka have looked very consistent so far in the tournament.

The final is a repeat of the tournament's opening game, which saw Sri Lanka win by just 12 runs. Read on for a full preview and prediction.


Pakistan will look to their batsmen

The runs have been flowing for Pakistan during this competition, with Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal being especially prolific.

A.M. Ahad/Associated Press

Shehzad has 223 runs from the four group games, while Akmal has scored 194 including his 102 not out against Afghanistan.

With fire power like this in their batting order, Pakistan will be confident of setting a daunting target, or chasing down anything the Sri Lankans might set them.

Furthermore, the inimitable Shahid Afridi could well be influential, having contributed two match-winning innings so far this tournament including in their one-wicket win over India.

With Lasith Malinga to contend with, Pakistan's batting must be outstanding if they are to triumph.


Malinga and Sangakkara hold the key for Sri Lanka

Malinga's ability to bowl so effectively at the death could be absolutely key in this encounter, as it was when the two sides met earlier in the tournament.

The 30-year-old thundered through the Pakistan tail on that occasion, taking all of the last five wickets to fall, preventing them from chasing down the 296 run target Sri Lanka had set.

A.M. Ahad/Associated Press

If Malinga can be as lethal in this encounter, then Pakistan will have to find a new way to deal with him to prevent a repeat performance.

As well as a clinical bowler, Sri Lanka also boast the tournament's top run scorer in Kumar Sangakkara.

With two half-centuries and a century against India, the 36-year-old has scored 248 runs at an average of 62. 

If he can get settled then Pakistan will struggle to stop Sri Lanka from scoring, especially with the likes of Angelo Mathews lower down the order more than capable of making a contribution. 



It is almost impossible to call this one, with both teams capable of extraordinary things on their day.

If Pakistan bring their best game then they could easily grab a famous win.

However, Sri Lanka's consistency gives them the edge going into what should be a fantastic final.

Prediction: Sri Lanka to win narrowly