Like every edition, this year’s Asia Cup also saw a few scintillating performances. Expectedly, since Sri Lanka and Pakistan made it to the final, most of the good showings came from their teams. Here’s a look at the top five performers at this year’s Asia Cup.
Lahiru Thirimanne: The Sri Lankan opener was in superb form throughout out the series, and was deservedly named the man of the series. In five matches, he totalled 279 runs at an average of 56 with two wonderful hundreds in contrasting circumstances. He began the tournament with 102 against Pakistan, which helped them post an impressive total on board. In the final, he compiled a quality 101 while chasing, which took them to the title win. He gave the team good starts against India and Bangladesh as well with 38 and 33.
Kumar Sangakkara: The left-hander may have fallen for a first-ball duck in the final, but he was the team’s mainstay for a majority of the tournament. Sangakkara scored a total of 248 runs in five matches at an average of 50 with one hundred and two fifties. Most of these runs came in the first three matches he played. His most significant knock was the century against India. Sri Lanka were in big trouble chasing a challenging Indian total, but Sangakkara single-handedly took them to victory smashing 103 from 84 balls. His 67 against Pakistan and 76 against Afghanistan also came in winning causes.
Lasith Malinga: Sri Lanka’s most experienced bowler once again stood up and delivered some wonderful performances. In the four matches he played, Malinga claimed 11 wickets at an average of 17 with two five-wicket hauls. Just like Thirimanne, who began and finished the tournament with hundreds, Malinga also claimed five-fors in his first and final match. Malinga’s 5 for 52 in the tournament opener saw Pakistan collapse from a winning position. His 5 for 56 in the final kept Pakistan down to a chaseable total.
Umar Akmal: Consistency has not been the youngster’s forte, but that changed during this Asia Cup. With 253 runs from five game, he was the tournament’s second-highest run-getter. Akmal’s performance included one century and two fifties, and a high average of 84 since he was not out on two occasions. Akmal made 74 against Sri Lanka in the opener, 102 not out against Afghanistan and a quick 59 in the final against the Lankans.
Saeed Ajmal: The Pakistan spinner stood out yet again even as the pacers from his team struggled. Ajmal claimed 11 wickets in five matches averaging 18 and rarely relieved the pressure on the opposition when he bowled. His economy was superb at 4 and so was his strike rate – 26. Ajmal claimed 3 for 40 against India, but he reserved his best spell for the final where he finished with figures of 3 for 26. Unfortunately, Pakistan did not have enough runs on the board for Ajmal to win it for them.
--By A Cricket Analyst