One of the best cricket matches of the Asia Cup 2023 took place on Thursday as Sri Lanka defeated Pakistan in a last-ball thriller to advance to the final of the tournament. It was Sri Lanka’s Kusal Mendis who produced an excellent 91 while Charith Asalanka gave him good company with a gutsy unbeaten 49 to set up the final against India. Pakistan seemed to have done well to put themselves in a winning position after Shaheen Afridi’s spectacular penultimate over. but Sri Lanka reached the target of 252 runs scoring 6 runs off the last 2 balls.
Half-centuries from Abdullah Shafique (52) and Mohammad Rizwan (86 not out) had guided Pakistan to a competitive 252 for 7 from 42 overs after opting to bat on another rain-affected day.
But Sri Lanka replied in kind through Mendis and Asalanka as they edged past the target after the last ball of the match, also spoiling the possibility of an Indo-Pak summit clash.
After Kusal Perera left early, Mendis in the company of Pathum Nissanka (29) kept the Lankan innings steady with a 57-run stand for the second wicket.
But an even better passage was the wait for the Lankans, despite Nissanka spooning a return catch to Shadab Khan.
Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama (48 off 51 balls) added 100 runs for the third wicket as Lanka gradually bridged the gap.
Mendis is blessed with natural striking ability and timing, and his knock was confirmation of that. The right-hander used his feet well against spinners and was confident of the quicker fate.
Samarawickrama, despite being pinged once on the helmet by Shaheen Afridi, kept his aim going with some sensible cricket.
But a temporary haste put an end to his stay. Iftikhar caught it in no man’s land with a slightly fuller ball, and Rizwan delivered an easy stump.
Mendis milked another 33 runs with Asalanka, but Iftikhar returned to dismiss him.
Mendis’ attempt to turn the ball off his pads resulted in a lead, which was superbly collected by a diving Mohamamd Harris.
After that, Sri Lanka panicked, losing four wickets in as many overs and it looked like they were about to blow the chase.
— Nihari Korma (@NihariVsKorma) September 14, 2023
Afridi did the damage during that phase with two wickets in consecutive balls. But Asalanka held his nerve in the final to bring his team home. Here’s the video:
Go big or go home
Sri Lanka will take that spot in the final as they end Pakistan’s journey in this tournament
— Disney+ Hotstar (@DisneyPlusHS) September 14, 2023
Earlier, Shafique and Rizwan backed Pakistan’s innings with fine fifties. Pakistan also got a late push from Iftikhar Ahmed (47 off 40 balls).
With PTI inputs
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