Opener Lahiru Thirimanne hit a magnificent century to help Sri Lanka thump Pakistan by five wickets to regain the Asia Cup title in Dhaka on Saturday.
The left-hander notched 101 for his third one-day hundred to anchor Sri Lanka's successful chase of a 261-run target in 46.2 overs for his country's fifth Asia Cup title at Dhaka's Shere Bangla stadium.
Thirimanne, who also scored a hundred in the tournament's opening match against the same opponents, hit 13 boundaries during his 108-ball knock and steadied the chase during a solid 156-run third-wicket partnership with veteran team-mate Mahela Jayawardene, who made 75.
Pakistan's main spin weapon Saeed Ajmal had broken through after Sri Lanka's confident start of 56, dismissing Kusal Perera (42) and dangerman Kumar Sangakkara (nought) off successive deliveries.
Jayawardene, who had a poor run of scores with 13, nine, 14 and nought in the tournament, benefitted when wicket-keeper Umar Akmal dropped a regulation catch off Shahid Afridi.
Jayawardene, then 36, hit nine boundaries and a six before he holed out off paceman Mohammad Talha.
Sri Lanka also lost Ashan Prinyanjan (13) to Junaid Khan and Thirimanne to Ajmal but skipper Angelo Mathews (16 not out) hit the winning runs.
Thirimanne, who reached his hundred with a single off Khan, was finally bowled by Ajmal who finished with 3-26.
Sri Lanka had also won the Asia Cup in 1986, 1997, 2004 and 2008.
"We wanted to break the barrier between us and finals," said Mathews of Sri Lanka's failure to win the World Cup finals of 2007 and 2011 and the Twenty20 finals of 2009 and 2012.
"The credit goes to the whole team. It was a very good run chase and big victory not only for me but for the whole team," said Mathews whose team won all the five matches in the event.
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq blamed defeat on his side's loss of early wickets.
"I think losing the first three wickets quickly put us under pressure and although we managed to reach 260, it was some 20-30 short," said Misbah.
Pakistan, who decided to bat after winning the toss, were helped to 260-5 by a brilliant unbeaten 114 by Fawad Alam and a solid 65 by Misbah.
Alam's knock helped Pakistan recover from early devastation caused by paceman Lasith Malinga, who took the first three wickets to force Pakistan on to the back foot, before he finished with 5-56.
Alam added an invaluable 122 for the fourth wicket with Misbah and then another 115 for the fifth wicket with Umar Akmal who made a 42-ball 59.
Alam, who returned to the team with a brilliant 74 against Bangladesh on Tuesday after a four-year absence, hit eight boundaries and three sixes off 134 balls.
Alam became the first left-handed Pakistan batsman, other than openers, to hit a one-day century. He hit paceman Thisara Perera over long-on for a six to reach his century off 126 balls.
Akmal hit seven boundaries to give impetus to the innings as Pakistan scored 101 in the last ten overs.
Earlier, Malinga rocked the innings with the wickets of Sharjeel Khan (eight), Ahmed Shehzad (five) and Mohammad Hafeez (three) in his incisive four-over spell, pushing Pakistan to 18-3 by the fifth over.
Misbah and Alam played steadily during their 122-run partnership and were lucky to survive some close chances.
Misbah was ruled not out on 19 by Australian umpire Bruce Oxenford when action replays suggested he edged Mathews to wicket-keeper Sangakkara.
Misbah hit three boundaries and two sixes during his solid 98-ball knock before Malinga returned for his second spell and had the Pakistan captain caught in the deep.
Five-times champions India, hosts Bangladesh and Afghanistan were the other teams in the competition.
SRI LANKA INNINGS
A mercurial century by Lahiru Thirimanne (101) steered Sri Lanka to a comprehensive five-wicket win against Pakistan in the final of the Asia Cup in Dhaka on Saturday.
It was the fifth time Sri Lanka have emerged champions winning it with an unbeaten record.
Sri Lanka suffered a hiccup when Ajmal struck twice in consecutive balls in the 11th over after Kusal Perera had given them an ideal start with a brisk knock of 42 off 37 balls with six boundaries and a six.
Sri Lanka slipped to 56-2 when they lost Kusal and leading run-scorer Sangakkara for a first-ball duck.
Mahela survived the hat-trick ball and made a timely return to form scoring 75 off 93 balls with nine boundaries and a six during a 156-run stand for the fourth wicket with Thirimanne to lay the foundation for victory.
Thirimanne cracked 101 off 108 balls with 13 fours, his second century of the tournament which also came against Pakistan, before falling with 14 runs needed for victory.
Skipper Mathews kept his nerve after they lost another wicket, hitting two boundaries in his unbeaten 16 of 13 balls.
Ajmal had an excellent return of three for 26 but lack support from the other end with Gul going for 44 in six overs and Talha for 56 in 6.2 overs despite picking up a wicket.
Chasing a stiff target of 261, Sri Lanka romped home with 22 balls to spare making 261-5 in 46.2 overs.
Mathews pulls Talha to square leg and hits the winning run as Sri Lanka beat Pakistan by five wickets.
Chathuranga flicks Junaid to long leg for a boundary as Sri Lanka need six to win off the last four overs.
Ajmal completes his quota with figures of 10-2-26-3. SL 248-5 in 45 overs.
Ajmal returns to beat centurion Thirimanne through the gate in his final over. SL 247-5 in 44.1 overs.
Lahiru Thirimanne b Saeed Ajmal 101 (108b 13x4 0x6)
Thirimanne completes his third ODI century and second in the tournament off 106 balls with 13 fours. SL 247-4 in 44 overs.
Thirimanne is on 99 as Sri Lanka are doing it in singles. SL 239-4 in 43 overs.
Lanka need 28 from 48 balls with skipper Mathews joining Thirimanne who is batting on 96. SL 233-4 in 42 overs.
Priyanjan slams Junaid over long-on but perishes in the same over edging behind. SL 233-4 in 41.4 overs.
Ashan Priyanjan c Umar Akmal b Junaid Khan 13 (18b 2x4 0x6)
Sri Lanka are 229-3 in 41 overs and require 32 from 54 balls.
New batsman Priyanjan plays out Ajmal's ninth over. SL 218-3 in 39 overs.
Priyanjan smashes Talha to third man boundary to open his account. SL 217-3 in 38 overs.
Mahela hits Talha high up in the air for Sharjeel to take the catch as the 156-run stand with Thirimanne comes to an end. SL 212-3 in 37.2 overs.
Mahela Jayawardene c Sharjeel Khan b Mohammad Talha 75 (93b 9x4 1x6)
Mahela sweeps Ajmal to the square leg fence. SL 212-2 in 37 overs.
Talha goes for 13 in the first over of Batting Powerplay with Mahela slamming consecutive boundaries. SL 206-2 in 36 overs.
Mahela cracks Gul past point to reach his 71st ODI half century after 13 innings and survives a dropped effort from Hafeez at midwicket which runs away to the fence. SL 190-2 in 34 overs.
Thirimanne crashes Afridi through the covers for a boundary. SL 180-2 in 33 overs.
Thirimanne uses the pace of Gul to open the face of the bat and steer him to the third man fence. SL 174-2 in 32 overs.
Afridi is back into the attack replacing Ajmal who has figures of 6-2-15-2. SL 168-2 in 31 overs.
Sri Lanka need 97 off 120 balls with the Batting Powerplay yet to come. SL 164-2 in 30 overs.
Thirimanne slams Junaid past point for a boundary with an exquisite shot and brings up the 100-run partnership with Mahela off 103 balls. SL 157-2 in 28 overs.
Thirimanne stands tall and flicks Talha off his hips to square leg for another boundary. SL 145-2 in 25 overs.
Thirimanne deliberately edges Talha to third man and brings up his seventh ODI fifty with a single. SL 130-2 in 23 overs.
Mahela caresses Afridi for a boundary to third man with an exquisite late cut. SL 122-2 in 22 overs.
Thirimanne gets another boundary courtesy of misfield by Gul as he sweeps Hafeez. SL 114-2 in 21 overs.
The 50-run partnership between Thirimanne and Mahela comes off 58 balls as Sri Lanka steady after the loss of quick wickets.
Mahela is turning it on chipping Hafeez to midwicket for a boundary to midwicket one-bounce to bring up the 100 of the innings. SL 102-2 in 19 overs.
Mahela slams Afridi with a pick-up over midwicket which would have given him loads of confidence. SL 96-2 in 18 overs.
Afridi comes into the attack and Mahela is fortunate edging him past the vacant slip for a boundary. SL 86-2 in 16 overs.
Mahela hits his first boundary with a crafty late cut to third man. SL 80-2 in 15 overs.
Thirimanne is continue to play his shots unfazed by the dismissal of Kusal and Sangakkara, swinging Talha to backward square leg and flicking to fine leg for a couple of boundaries. SL 76-2 in 14 overs.
Thirimanne pulls a short ball from Junaid to the square leg fence. SL 68-2 in 12 overs.
Mahela survives after being beaten by a doosra but is hit high on the pad while Thirimanne glances Ajmal to fine leg for a boundary. SL 62-2 in 11 overs.
Double strike by Ajmal who is on hat-trick after trapping the leading run scorer of the tournament Sangakkara for a first-ball duck. SL 56-2 in 10.2 overs.
Kumar Sangakkara lbw b Saeed Ajmal 0 (1b 0x4 0x6)
Pakistan finally get a breakthrough as Ajmal strikes to remove the dangerous Kusal jumps out and is beaten by the turn. SL 56-1 in 10.2 overs.
Kusal Perera st Umar Akmal b Saeed Ajmal 42 (37b 6x4 1x6)
Kusal gets another boundary with a crisp pull shot almost swatting Talha to midwicket and just manages to clear the ropes as Sharjeel goes over the line after catching it. SL 56-0 in 10 overs.
Ajmal begins with a maiden to Kusal survives a confident shout for a leg before. SL 44-0 in 9 overs.
Ajmal into the attack replacing Hafeez whose opening spell reads 4-0-16-0.
First bowling change as Junaid replaces Gul who has gone for 24 in his first three overs.
Kusal is leading Sri Lanka's run-chase punching Hafeez through the covers for his fifth boundary. SL 40-0 in 7 overs.
Kusal is on song cracking a couple of boundaries off Gul through midwicket and flicking to fine leg. SL 35-0 in 6 overs.
Thirimanne edges Gul over slip for his second boundary in the over from Gul. SL 22-0 in 4 overs.
Thirimanne gets his first boundary slamming Gul uppishly to the cover boundary.
Kusal jabs Hafeez through midwicket for his second boundary displaying ominous form. SL 14-0 in 3 overs.
Shehzad stops a certain boundary from Kusal but is in agony having hurt his hand in the process. SL 7-0 in 2 overs.
Kusal hits the first boundary of the innings off the first ball from Gul who gives him a little and the ball is sent racing liking a tracer bullet to the cover boundary as Sri Lanka begin the run-chase.
A maiden unbeaten century from Fawad Alam (114) helped Pakistan make a magnificent recovery to post a formidable total of 260-5 in the final of the Asia Cup against Sri Lanka on Saturday.
Alam strode into the middle when Pakistan's innings was in tatters at 18 for three in the fifth over.
But the diminutive left-hander stood tall batting with great determination and aplomb stroking eight boundaries and three sixes facing 134 balls, to resurrect Pakistan after slinger Lasith Malinga had caused carnage.
Malinga appeared to continue from where he left off in the last game against Pakistan in which he claimed a five for 11 in 14 balls during a deadly final spell.
Sri Lanka's pace ace struck in each of his first three overs to have figures of 4-0-13-3 in his opening spell.
But Alam dropped anchor with his skipper Misbah ul Haq to weather the storm and put Pakistan's back on track with a dogged stand of 122 off 198 balls.
Malinga struck again to break the partnership as Misbah miscued as he attempted to step on the accelerator after making 65 off 98 balls with three boundaries and two sixes.
Sri Lanka's joy was shortlived as Umar Akmal joined Alam during a blazing 115-run stand for the fifth wicket in just 78 balls.
Akmal cracked seven boundaries in his 42-ball 59 before falling in the last over as Pakistan plundered 101 in the last 10 overs.
Malinga finished with figures of five for 56 claiming his seventh five-wicket haul in ODIs.
Lakmal (10-0-56-5) also bowled well, Mathews (7-1-23-0) was miserly but Thisara (10-1-66-0) and Senanayake (9-0-54-0) took a beating.
Alam hits a boundary of the penultimate ball of the innings from Malinga and deny Afridi a hit as Pakistan finish strongly on 260-5 in 50 overs.
Malinga claims his seventh five-wicket haul in ODI as Priyanjan holds onto the a skier from Akmal. Paki 255-5 in 49.4 overs.
Umar Akmal c Priyanjan b Malinga 59 (42b 7x4 0x6)
Alam smashes another boundary off a full toss to spoil a good over from Lakmal. Pak 251-4 in 49 overs.
Thisara goes for 17 as Akmal hammers consecutive boundaries to complete his 19th ODI half century and also bring up the 100 partnership off 68 balls. Pak 243-4 in 48 overs.
Alam flicks a low full toss from Thisara for a six over midwicket to reach his maiden ODI century in style.
Big over for Pakistan as Malinga goes for 15 with Akmal smashing three boundaries, the final one a delicate jab past the keeper. Pak 226-4 in 47 overs.
Alam (92) gets a life after miscuing Malinga into the covers with Chathuranga failing to grab it.
Alam have moved into the 90s as Pakistan are 211-4 in 46 overs.
Another good over from Malinga as Pakistan are 201-4 in 45 overs with five to go.
Thisara bowls a tight over restricint the batsmen to singles. Pak 196-4 in 44 overs.
The 50-run partnership between Alam and Akmal comes in 38 balls. Pak 190-4 in 43 overs.
Alam sizzles blasting Lakmal with a flat batted shot over long-on for his second six and then sweeps to square leg for a boundary. Pak 184-4 in 42 overs.
Akmal opens out cracking consecutive boundaries off Thisara lofting over mid-off and square cutting past point. Pak 170-4 in 41 overs.
Pakistan get 34 for the loss of skipper Misbah in the Batting Powerplay. Pak 159-5 in 40 overs.
Sri Lanka must be rueing not selecting mystery spinner Mendis ahead of Senanayake who has gone for 54 in nine overs.
Senanayake continues to leak runs with Alam pulling one to the mid-on fence. Pak 150-4 in 38 overs.
Malinga seems to be bogey man for Pakistan breaking the second wicket partnership of 122 in the first over his second spell as Misbah miscues a lofted shot. Pak 140-4 in 36.4 overs.
Misbah-ul-Haq c Kusal Perera b Malinga 65 (98b 3x4 2x6)
Senanayake goes for 13 in the first over of Batting Powerplay as Alam lofts him for a boundary while Misbah goes one better smashing him over midwicket for his second six. Pak 138-3 in 36 overs.
Lakmal bowls an excellent over conceding just a single to Misbah before the beginning of the Batting Powerplay overs. Pak 125-3 in 35 overs.
Thisara returns to the attack but Alam launches him into space for a six over long-on for his first six and completes his second consecutive half century with a single.
Alam survives after slashing at Lakmal with Sangakkara failing to latch onto a tough one despite making an acrobatic leap. Pak 114-3 in 33 overs.
Misbah sweeps a couple of boundaries off Chathuranga to bring up his 37th ODI fifty and 10th against Sri Lanka off 78 balls. Pak 106-3 in 31 overs.
Misbah sweeps Chathuranga to fine leg to bring up the 100 of the innings in 30.1 overs.
Misbah and Alam are frustrating Sri Lanka who seem to have let Pakistan off the hook after Malinga's triple strike although runs are not coming easily. Pak 96-3 in 30 overs.
All spin attack now with Chathuranga coming in after Thisara (6-1-22-0) and Mathews (6-1-14-0) bowled excellent opening spells. Pak 81-3 in 25 overs.
Alam scoops one over the keeper as Senanayake returns to the attack as Pakistan begin to shift gears. Pak 79-3 in 24 overs.
Alam punches Mathews down the ground for a boundary to bring up the 50 partnership with Misbah off 106 balls. Pak 73-3 in 23 overs.
Misbah finally decides to get out of shell as he clubs Thisara over midwicket for the first six of the match. Pak 67-3 in 22 overs.
Misbah survives a caught behind appeal off Mathews with replays suggesting he got a faint edge. Pak 58-3 in 21 overs.
Boundaries are difficult to come by as Sri Lanka tighten the screws making even singles difficult for Misbah and Alam. Pak 56-3 in 20 overs.
Misbah and Alam have put on 22 in 63 balls as the Pakistan begin to rebuild the innings after the carnage cause by Malinga. Pak 40-3 in 15 overs.
Mathews also begins with a maiden as he replaces Senanayake who goes for 13 in two overs. Pak 37-3 in 13 overs.
Thisara begins by bowling a maiden to Fawad. Pak 37-3 in 12 overs.
Thisara into the attack replacing Lakmal whose opening spell reads 5-2-10-0.
Alam smashes a short ball from Senanayake through the covers for another boundary while Misbah gets his first with an exquisite cover drive. Pak 37-3 in 11 overs.
Malinga has rocked Pakistan who manage 28 for the loss of three wicket in the first 10 overs.
Alam caresses Senanayake through the covers for his first boundary. Pak 24-3 in 9 overs.
First bowling change as spin introduced and Senanayake comes into the attack replacing Malinga whose opening spell reads 4-0-13-3.
Lakmal is cranking up the pressure at the other end by bowling a second consecutive maiden. Pak 20-3 in 8 overs.
Misbah survives as Lakmal narrowly misses the stumps with a beautiful in-dipper. Pak 19-3 in 6 overs.
Malinga has rocked Pakistan with a wicket in each of his first three overs continuing from his five wickets in 14 balls during his deadly final in their last outing.
Malinga is on fire as he picks up his third wicket as he gets the in-form Hafeez who hangs his bat out to be caught behind. Pak 18-3 in 4.3 overs.
Mohammad Hafeez c Sangakkara b Malinga 3 (13b 0x4 0x6)
Senanayake almost took a blinder at cover point as Hafeez cuts Lakmal uppishly with the fielder making a valiant diving effort. Pak 17-2 in 4 overs.
Double strike by Malinga as Shehzad flails his bat at a loose delivery only to nick behind. Pak 17-2 in 3 overs.
Ahmed Shehzad c Sangakkara b Malinga 5 (7b 1x4 0x6)
Hafeez opens his account with a flick to midwicket for three runs off Malinga. Pak 17-1 in 3 overs.
Shehzad gets cracking slashing Lakmal behind point for his first boundary. Pak 14-1 in 2 overs.
Malinga has picked up a wicket in the first over of the innings on 15 occasions, more than any other bowler.
Malinga has the last laugh with Sharjeel being undone by the change of angle and chipping straight to mid-on. A soft dismissal for Pakistan. Pak 8-1 in 1 over.
Sharjeel Khan c Thisara Perera b Malinga 8 (6b 2x4 0x6)
Malinga is hammered for another boundary as Sharjeel sends him crashing through the covers pouncing a widish delivery.
Sharjeel hits the first boundary of the match driving the first ball from Malinga through point.
Pakistan have won the toss and are batting first with the good news being Afridi is playing.
Pakistan have made two changes with Sharjeel Khan and Junaid Khan returning.
Sri Lanka have one change with Suranga Lakmal coming in for Ajantha Mendis.
Pakistan: Sharjeel Khan, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Misbah-ul-Haq, Umar Akmal, Fawad Alam, Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Talha, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Junaid Khan
Sri Lanka: Kusal Perera, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Ashan Priyanjan, Angelo Mathews, Chathuranga de Silva, Thisara Perera, Sachithra Senanayake, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga
Pakistan have a few injury concerns but Sharjeel and Gul are fit as is 'Boom Boom' Afridi.
The last five Asia Cup finals won by team batting fist.
Mahela Jayawardene's last 13 ODI innings: 218 runs at an average of 16.77.
Rampaging Shahid Afridi and prolific Kumar Sangakkara have set the stage for a rousing contest when Pakistan face Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup one-day final in Dhaka on Saturday.
Angelo Mathews' Sri Lanka have been the dominant team in the five-nation event with four straight victories in the league, including a 12-run win over Pakistan in the tournament opener on February 25.
The charge was led by Sangakkara, the 36-year-old left-hander who has been in prime form during his team's current tour of Bangladesh which began with a bilateral series in January.
Sangakkara scored 75, 319 and 105 in two Test matches and 128 in the second one-day international to steer Sri Lanka to series wins in all three formats against the hosts.
The veteran has also played three match-winning innings in the Asia Cup, making 67 against Pakistan, 103 versus World Cup champions India and 76 against minnows Afghanistan.
He remains the leading scorer in the tournament with 248 runs despite falling cheaply for two in Thursday's last league match against Bangladesh.
“It is great to have Sangakkara in such good form, but the others will also need to step up and rally around him if we are to win,” Mathews said.
“Pakistan have shown how tough a side they are to beat. But we have our plans and are confident of doing well if we execute them well.”
Pakistan, the defending champions, bounced back after the loss against Sri Lanka to qualify for the final with three successive victories against Afghanistan, India and Bangladesh.
The mercurial Afridi fashioned two tense last-over wins, slamming an 18-ball 34 against India before making an astonishing 59 off 25 balls against Bangladesh.
Short boundaries at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium where even mis-hits land over the fence appear tailor-made for Afridi, and skipper Misbah-ul-Haq hoped for another power-packed display in the final.
“Afridi is our main player,” a grateful Misbah said.
“The kind of form he is in and the kind of confidence he shows, it's good for the Pakistan team.
“We just tell him to make sure he bats for at least 25-30 balls. If he does that he can score a 50. I'm really happy with the way he's playing.”
Pakistan Cricket Board official Zakir Khan said Afridi, Umar Gul, Sharjeel Khan and Ahmed Shehzad were suffering from injury niggles, but he expected them to be fit for the final.
“Afridi has a hip strain and the others have minor niggles, but all of them have responded well to rest and treatment and should be available to play tomorrow,” Khan said in Dhaka on Friday.
Both teams boast of destructive bowling attacks with Sri Lanka's Ajantha Mendis the tournament's joint leader with nine wickets and Pakistan's Saeed Ajmal in second place with eight.
Sling-arm fast bowler Lasith Malinga, who has taken six wickets, said Afridi's explosive game-changing form did not worry him.
“I am more concerned about how I bowl,” Malinga said.
“Afridi does not worry me and I don't think they (Pakistan) are thinking too much about me either.”
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