Sri Lanka's Asia Cup winning hero Bhanuka Rajapaksha, who played an important role in his side's Asia Cup victory, has dedicated the title to his crisis-hit island nation.
Sri Lanka beat Pakistan by 23 runs in the final clash on Sunday to clinch the Asia Cup title for the sixth time.
Batting first, Sri Lanka were reduced to 67/5 but Rajapaksha (71 off 45 balls) and Wanindu Hasaranga (36 off 21 balls) turned the tables to reach a competitive 170/6.
"We always wanted to show the world - a couple of decades back, we had aggression on our side, and we wanted to create those moments (again) as a unit," Rajapaksa said at the post-match press conference.
"Looking forward, we want to keep up this momentum ahead of the World Cup. With the crisis happening back home, this is a tough time for all the Sri Lankans, but hope we brought some smiles on the faces of our people."
"This is to the whole nation; they were waiting for this for so long," he added.
Earlier, the Asia Cup was scheduled to be played in Sri Lanka. However, amidst the political unrest in the country, the Asia Cup was shifted from the island nation to UAE.
Sri Lanka clinched the much-needed Asia Cup title against the backdrop of the country's worst economic crisis coupled with political unrest.
Sitting beside Rajapaksha was Sri Lanka's captain Dasun Shanaka and the 31-year-old praised his teammates for responding so well throughout the tournament despite losing to Afghanistan in their tournament opener.
"After that first loss, we had a serious discussion," Shanaka said.
"We knew we had the talent, but it was about applying those in the game scenarios and all the players stood up. It's the environment we created as a team and coaching staff that has paid off," he added.
The Sri Lankan skipper also had a message for the fans back home following the title win.
"Believe in our cricketers. A lot of bad things are going around. As cricketers, they too should enjoy their lives as well, not spreading bad things. They have private lives too. Keep believing, that is the key. As a captain, I give confidence to the players, (whatever) I can. I can't ask more than that," Shanaka said.
Shanaka further said that the Asia Cup win could be a stepping stone for greater things to come for Sri Lanka cricket, which is going through a transition phase for a long time.
"Even two-three years back, the team used to play good cricket, but the winning factor wasn't there," he said.
"This could be the turnaround in our cricket, this lot can continue to play for five-six years, which is a very good sign as well.
"The World Cup qualifiers will also help because it will allow us to play in that conditions before the main tournament happens. It will be a really good (opportunity for us)," he added.
(Inputs from PTI)