Defending champions Pakistan will have to contend with minor injury issues to key players Shahid Afridi and Umar Gul as they take on a consistent Sri Lanka in the final of the Asia Cup cricket tournament here tomorrow.
Afridi, who has played a pivotal role in turning around the fortunes of Pakistan in this tournament, has suffered a grade one hip flexor strain and his availability will be known only tomorrow morning. Paceman Gul is little bit "stiff" and Sharjeel Khan along with opener Ahmed Shehzad also have some niggles, going into the title clash.
The Sri Lankans, who had defeated the defending champions in the tournament opener, are yet to lose a match in the mega event of the sub-continent and they would hope that their campaign culminates with the title.
Pakistan's chances would depend on how they tame seasoned Kumar Sangakkara and handle the bowling of paceman Lasith Malinga and spinner Ajantha Mendis. It was Malinga, who had taken key wickets of Misbah-Ul Haq and Afridi in their previous clash and Sangakkara is in prime form in this tournament. He has hit one century and two fifties and his rare failure was against Bangladesh yesterday.
Pakistan, on the other hand have wriggled out of difficult situations to reach their second successive Asia Cup final and a lot of credit goes to Afridi for his fiery knocks of 34 and 59 against India and Bangladesh respectively.
Those two knocks not only revived the team's hopes of their title defence but also injected the much-needed spark and life to what had been a low key Asia Cup affair. After shattering India's hopes, the 'boom-boom' Afridi returned to devastate the host country as he led Pakistan to a great win, chasing Bangladesh's highest ever 326, with his 18-ball half-century.