In a thrilling last-ball showdown, Sri Lanka displayed remarkable composure as they secured a two-wicket victory over Pakistan, earning a spot in the Asia Cup final against India this year.
The heart-pounding match concluded with Charith Asalanka, delivering the winning performance for the home team, successfully chasing down the 252-run target.
The Asia Cup 2023 final will now see Sri Lanka facing India on Saturday, September 17, in Colombo.
Throughout the final overs, Charith Asalanka remained poised, shouldering the responsibility to guide his team to victory with patience and determination.
During the final over, the match seemed to tilt in favor of the visiting team, thanks to Zaman Khan’s brilliant display, as they only needed to defend six runs in the last two balls.
However, on the penultimate ball of the match, Asalanka managed to get an outside edge, and the ball crossed the boundary line.
With two runs needed off the last delivery, Zaman bowled a slower length ball on the leg side. The left-handed batsman kept his cool and played a simple shot towards the deep square leg boundary, celebrating as he sprinted two runs across the pitch, securing a historic win for his side.
Reflecting on his thought process during the post-match ceremony, Asalanka shared, “I just focused on finding a gap to get those two runs and told Pathirana to run hard. I anticipated either a bouncer or a yorker, but he bowled a slower ball, which worked in my favor. I’m thrilled. Mendis and Sadeera batted exceptionally well. I wanted to finish the game; that’s my role. I’d rank this innings as second in my book.”
In their pursuit of the 252-run target, Sri Lanka established themselves as the favorites from the outset, with their batsmen displaying maturity and sensibility.
Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama formed a pivotal partnership, accumulating 100 runs and putting their team in a commanding position.
Mendis departed after amassing 91 runs, while Samarawickrama fell just two runs short of a half-century, becoming a victim of Iftikhar Ahmed’s bowling prowess.
Iftikhar made significant contributions with both bat and ball, securing three crucial wickets, but his heroic efforts went unrewarded.
Batting first, Pakistan posted a total of 252 runs on the scoreboard, largely thanks to the combined efforts of Mohammad Rizwan and Iftikhar Ahmed.
Rizwan played a remarkable unbeaten innings of 86 off 73 balls, featuring nine boundaries, while Abdullah Shafique contributed with his maiden ODI half-century, emerging as the second-highest scorer for the Green Shirts.
The toss was won by Pakistan, who chose to bat first. The match was initially reduced to 45 overs and later to 42 overs due to rain.
Pakistan: Mohammad Haris, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam (C), Mohammad Rizwan (WK), 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 (WK), Sadeera Samarawickrama, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dasun Shanaka (C), Dunith Wellalage, Maheesh Theekshana, Pramod Madushan, Matheesha Pathirana