Asia Cup 2022: Mickey Arthur lavishes praise on 'big match player' Wanindu Hasaranga

Former Sri Lanka head coach Mickey Arthur was delighted over Wanindu Hasaranga's all-round display in the Asia Cup 2022 final against Pakistan. 
Wanindu Hasaranga

The Sri Lankan spin all-rounder blasted a critical knock of 36 and backed that up with a spell of 3 for 27 in Dubai. 

Sri Lanka's former head coach Mickey Arthur was effusive in praise for spin all-rounder Wanindu Hasaranga after his terrific display in the Asia Cup 2022 final on Sunday (September 11). 

Hasaranga came up with a critical cameo with the bat in hand to turn the game against Pakistan, before delivering a spectacular spell to tilt the scales decisively in his team's favour. 

Walking into bat with the Sri Lankans struggling at 58/5, the young cricketer blazed his willow for an influential knock of 36 off 21 balls. His knock gave Sri Lanka the belief to take the game back to the opposition as they then rode on the wave of Bhanuka Rajapaksa's freeflowing 71 to reach a highly competitive score of 170/6. 

Hasaranga later dented the Pakistan run-chase with his indecipherable mix of googlies and leg-breaks, ending with excellent figures of 3 for 27 off his 4 overs. The all-rounder helped Sri Lanka dismiss Pakistan for only 147, recording an Asia Cup final win over their much-fancied opposition. 

Mickey Arthur raves over Wanindu Hasaranga

Having worked with him closely through his stint as Sri Lanka's head coach, Arthur said he always identified Wanindu Hasaranga as a potential "big-match player". The 54-year-old expressed delight to see the player fulfil his capabilities on a stage like the Asia Cup final, allowing Sri Lanka to reclaim the trophy for the sixth time in the tournament's history. 

"He is a big-match player, he loves playing on the edge.. he loves playing on the big stage," said Arthur on ESPNcricinfo show T20 Time:Out. "That partnership he had with Bhanuka was superb, he allowed Bhanuka to slow down and be there till the end." 

"And then three wickets in an over (in the run-chase).. he stands up when the going gets tough and that is one thing  I've always liked about Wanindu Hasaranga."

"From the moment I've seen him, no moment (in the game) is too big for him. When the pressure is on, he gets stuck in and does the job for you," he added. "He is very reliable and I knew he would come good today."

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Hasaranga didn't have the best of tournaments leading into the final in Dubai. But Arthur said he always knew the cricketer will come up with a crucial performance on the big night against Pakistan knowing he is a "big-match player". 

When asked to explain what separates such cricketers from the rest, Arthur said it's the ability to walk a thin line between "confidence and arrogance". 

"Wanindu sits on the line, he is a very confident cricketer," the ex Sri Lankan coach said. "Such cricketers back themselves when the going gets tough, they back themselves in high-pressure situations. They are almost like a showman, they are almost like actors.. (it's in these occasions) they are at their best and Wanindu posseses those qualities within him."