Sri Lanka and Pakistan locked horns for the first time in the Asia Cup 2023 in Colombo in the penultimate fixture in the Super Four stage. The stakes were high as the winner of this game would have gotten a direct entry into the final against India.
Babar Azam won the toss and opted to bat first. Abdullah Shafique showed good technique on a sluggish pitch and notched up his maiden ODI half-century. Interestingly, he wasn’t named in the playing XI on Wednesday but came in at the last moment as Imam-ul-Haq was ruled out due to a back spasm. However, Fakhar Zaman’s poor form continued as he was dismissed by a beautiful delivery from Pramod Madushan for 4.
Babar Azam got a start, but his innings was cut short by the rising star, Dunith Wellalage, with a stunning delivery. Pakistan were reeling at 130/5 in the 28th over when rain interrupted proceedings. The match was already a 45-over-per-side contest due to the rain-delayed start and was further reduced to 42 overs. After the break, the pitch quickened up spectacularly, and Mohammad Rizwan and Iftikhar Ahmed made great use of the favourable conditions. They stitched a scintillating partnership of 108 off 78 balls to take the tourists to a position of strength.
Rizwan scored an unbeaten 86 off 73 balls, taking the attack to the Sri Lankan bowlers to a nicety. Iftikhar played a positive hand of 47 off 40 balls and gave ample support to the wicketkeeper-batter. Pakistan eventually ended their innings on 252/7 in 42 overs. Sri Lanka were set a challenging DLS target of 252.
Kusal Perera, who replaced Dimuth Karunaratne for this match, got off to a rapid start, but his innings ended on an unfortunate note as Shadab Khan ran him out with a superb piece of fielding. Fellow opener Pathum Nissanka also played some good shots during his 29-run knock, but he threw his start away. The in-form Sadeera Samarawickrama joined forces with Kusal Mendis and the duo stitched together a 100-run partnership. The former was stumped off Iftikhar for a well-made 48.
Charith Asalanka joined Mendis, with the hosts requiring 75 more runs to win. They formed a 43-run partnership before the right-handed batter was dismissed by a stunning catch from Mohammad Haris off the bowling of Iftikhar. Sri Lanka needed just 42 runs to win at that stage, with 41 balls and six wickets left.
What should have been a relatively easy chase, turned into quite a struggle for the home side. In the end, they needed eight off the last over with three wickets in hand. Zaman Khan was given the responsibility to take Pakistan into the final. Charith Asalanka showed great composure to take a double off the last ball to take his team home as Sri Lanka won by two wickets (DLS method).
Congratulations Sri Lanka🙌🏻
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— The Curry Muncher (@Paprikaashh) September 14, 2023
Sanjay Manjerakar : Where did you think that you lost the game Babar Azam ?
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