Sri Lanka thrashes Pakistan
COLOMBO/ISLAMABAD: Sri Lanka thrashed Pakistan and clinched a thrilling victory over Pakistan by just two wickets on the very last ball of the game. It set the stage for an epic showdown with India in the Asia Cup 2023 final.
The nail-biting contest reached its crescendo as Charith Asalanka steered his team to the 252-run target, holding his nerve in the final few overs.
The grand finale of the Asia Cup 2023 is now scheduled for Saturday, September 17, in Colombo between Sri Lanka and India.
Charith Asalanka remained composed as the onus of guiding his team to victory rested on his shoulders in the closing moments, exhibiting remarkable patience at the crease.
During the last over, the scales appeared to tilt in favor of the visiting team, largely thanks to Zaman Khan’s brilliance. They needed to defend a mere six runs in the last two balls.
However, on the penultimate delivery of the match, Asalanka managed an outside edge that raced to the boundary line.
With two runs required off the final ball, Zaman Khan bowled a slower-length ball on the leg side. The left-handed batsman held his composure, playing a straightforward shot towards the deep square leg boundary. He jubilantly sprinted across the pitch to secure a historic win for his side.
Reflecting on his last-ball heroics during a post-match ceremony, Asalanka shared his thought process, saying, “I just thought about how to find the gap for a quick double, considering the vast field. I instructed Pathirana to run hard. I anticipated either a bouncer or a yorker, but he bowled a slower ball, which favored me. I’m thrilled. Mendis and Sadeera batted brilliantly. I was determined to finish the game; that’s my role. This innings ranks second in my book.”
In pursuit of the 252-run target, Sri Lanka displayed maturity and sensibility from the outset, making them the favorites throughout the innings.
Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama established a crucial 100-run partnership, firmly placing their team in a commanding position.
Mendis departed after a stellar 91-run contribution, while Samarawickrama fell just two runs short of his half-century, becoming a victim of Iftikhar Ahmed.
Pakistan has set a target of 253 runs for Sri Lanka in the knockout match of the Asia Cup. The winner of this match will face India in the final, scheduled for September 17 in Colombo. After the DLS adjustment, the target was reduced by one run, making it 252 runs in 42 overs.
Wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan and Iftikhar Ahmed played crucial roles in Pakistan’s innings, helping to reach a total that their bowlers, including debutant Zaman Khan, could defend. Rain at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo reduced the match to 42 overs.
Rizwan remained unbeaten on 86 and formed a 108-run partnership with Ahmed, who scored 47 before getting out.
Pakistan’s top order struggled initially to capitalize on the powerplay, but Rizwan and Ahmed’s partnership helped stabilize the innings.
Babar Azam, the Pakistan captain, won the toss and chose to bat against Sri Lanka after rain had shortened the Asia Cup knockout match to 45 overs per side.
The match essentially serves as a semi-final, with the winner earning a spot in the final against India, serving as a prelude to the ODI World Cup beginning in October.
Pakistan made two changes to their lineup, with Fakhar Zaman and Abdullah Shafique replacing Imam-ul-Haq and Saud Shakeel, who were unavailable due to injuries.
Sri Lanka also made two changes to their team compared to their previous Super Four match against India, with Kusal Perera and Pramod Madushan included in the XI.