ISLAMABAD: Defending champions Sri Lanka edged out Pakistan on Thursday to qualify for the final of the Asia Cup 2023 tournament in Colombo, after rain reduced the fixture between the two Asian giants to 42 overs a side.
Set a target of 253 runs to win, Sri Lanka made a nervous start, losing Kusal Perera for 20 runs after he was run out by a brilliant throw from Shadab Khan. Kusal Mendis scored 91 runs from 87 balls while Pathum Nissanka scored 29 runs from 44 balls.
Sadeera Samarawickrama scored 48 runs from 51 balls before a flurry of Sri Lankan wickets fell, putting the hosts within reach of the final. Afridi dismissed Dhananjaya de Silva and Dunith Wellalage for 5 and 0 runs respectively, off successive deliveries.
Sri Lanka needed 8 runs to win in the final over, which was bowled by debutant Zaman Khan. A mix-up between Asalanka and Pramod Madushan ended up costing the latter his wicket after Khan ran him out.
With Sri Lanka needing only 6 runs from the last two balls, Asalanka edged one for a boundary past the keeper. On the last ball, Asalanka scored two runs successively to give Sri Lanka the victory by two wickets.
Pakistan captain Babar Azam said the team decided to bowl their best overs before handing the ball to Afridi in the second-last over. “We have not been up to the mark in the bowling and fielding,” he said during the post-match conference. “That is why we lost the match.”
“We started well, ended well, but middle overs were not great. We have lacked that.”
Earlier, Pakistan finished at 252/7 from 42 overs after Mohammad Rizwan and Iftikhar Ahmed stabilized a Pakistani innings that suffered early blows.
Opening batter Fakhar Zaman continued his poor run of form at the Asia Cup, heading to the pavilion after only scoring 4 runs when he was dismissed by Matheesha Pathirana. Batter Abdullah Shafique and skipper Azam put on a 64-run partnership for the second wicket before Azam was stumped off a Dunith Wellalage delivery for 29 runs.
Shafique scored 52 off 69 balls before he was dismissed by Pathirana while Mohammad Haris and Mohammad Nawaz followed quickly for 3 and 12 runs respectively, putting Pakistan in trouble at 130-5. However, a 108-run partnership between Rizwan and Ahmed propelled Pakistan to a respectable 252-7 at the end of 42 overs. Rizwan top-scored for Pakistan with an unbeaten 86-run innings off 73 balls while Ahmed scored 47 runs from 40 balls.
Rizwan’s innings included two sixes and six fours while Ahmed smashed two sixes and four fours from his innings. For Sri Lanka, Pathirana was the pick of the bowlers, finishing with figures of 3/65 from 8 overs while Pramod Madushan finished with 2/58 from 7 overs. Maheesh Theekshana and Wellalage each took a wicket.
Sri Lanka will take on India in the final on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023.
Pakistan: Mohammad Haris, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam (capt), Mohammad Rizwan (wkt), Abdullah Shafique, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan (vice-capt), Mohammad Nawaz, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Wasim, Zaman Khan
Sri Lanka: Kusal Perera, Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis (wkt), Sadeera Samarawickrama, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dasun Shanaka (capt), Dunith Wellalage, Maheesh Theekshana, Pramod Madushan, Matheesha Pathirana