Asia Cup 2023: Sri Lanka defeat Pakistan in a last-ball thriller to set a date with India in the final on Sunday

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Asia Cup 2023: Sri Lanka defeat Pakistan in a last-ball thriller to set a date with India in the final on Sunday | Sportz Point
Charith Asalanka after taking Sri Lanka into their 11th Asia Cup final. Image: AFP/Getty Images
Charith Asalanka scored six from last two deliveries to help Sri Lanka qualify for their 11th Asia Cup final.
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Sri Lanka defeated Pakistan in the virtual semi-final of the Asia Cup 2023 by two wickets to set a date with India on Sunday for the Asia Cup 2023 final. Charitha Asalanka was their hero in the last over who took the home team over the line against a Pakistani team that kept on fighting. Kusal Mendis was adjudged the player of the match for his 91 from 87 balls. This is the 11th time that Sri Lanka have qualified for the Asia Cup final in ODI format.

Read Also: India vs Bangladesh: Asia Cup 2023 Match Preview, Pitch Report, Possible Lineups & Dream XI Team Prediction

A late start to the game due to rain

Asia Cup 2023: Sri Lanka vs Pakistan game started late due to rain | Sportz Point
Sri Lanka vs. Pakistan game started late due to rain. Image: AFP/Getty Images

Pakistan had announced to make as many as five changes ahead of their big game. But had to go with Fakhar Zaman, who was dropped in the first place due to poor form. Abdullah Shafique replaced Agha Salman in the playing eleven for them as well. Meanwhile, for Sri Lanka, Pramod Madushan replaced Kasun Rajitha, and Kusal Perera replaced Dimuth Karunaratne.

As usual, the toss was delayed due to the rain but Babar Azam did not wait for a second to choose bat when the coin flipped on his side. The game was shortened to 45 overs for each team due to the lost time.

Asia Cup 2023: Sri Lanka vs Pakistan | First inning

Pakistan and Fakhar Zaman did not have the best of starts as a late swinging yorker from Pramod Madushan cleaned the southpaw’s stumps for Pakistan’s first wicket. But, captain Babar Azam and Abdullah Shafique made sure they steadied the ship for Pakistan. However, it was Young left-arm spinner Wellalage again who turned things for Sri Lanka.

Wellalage outfoxed Babar Azam to lose his balance on the front foot as he drew him forward. Kusal Mendis did the rest to whip the bails off as Babar went to the dressing room for 29. Abdullah Shafique then took Pakistan past the hundred mark but lost his wicket trying to pull a short ball from Matheesha Pathirana right after scoring his maiden fifty. Mohammad Haris soon departed to a slower ball from Pathirana again.

Riwan and Nawaz bailed out Pakistan from danger

Asia Cup 2023: Sri Lanka defeat Pakistan in a last-ball thriller to set a date with India in the final on Sunday | Sportz Point
Mohammed Rizwan was unbeaten on 86 from 73 balls as he helped Pakistan reach 252 in the first inning. Image: AFP/Getty Images

After a drizzle again, the game was shortened to a 42-over game. Mohammed Nawaz, who was sent at number six, ahead of Iftikhar Ahmed, lost his wicket post the restart. But, after that, it was all about Mohhamed Rizwan and Iftikhar Ahmed’s partnership. Their sixth-wicket partnership of 108 in 78 took Pakistan to 238 for 6 in 40.3 overs; which looked decent on that wicket. Rizwan’s unbeaten 86 from 73 balls took them to 252/7 and DLS confirmed that the score would remain the same after the calculation.

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Asia Cup 2023: Sri Lanka vs Pakistan | Second Inning

Just like Pakistan, Sri Lanka lost an early wicket at the start of their inning. A flash of brilliance in the field from Shadab Khan made sure Kusal Perera had the depart after a quick start of 17 from 8. Post that, Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Mendis took them to past fifty in eight overs. Pathum then was dismissed for 29 by Shabad Khan who was again sharp to grab a caught and bowled. The match hung in balance at 77/2 in 13.2 overs as Sadeera Samarawickrama joined Kusal Mendis in the middle.

Samarawickrama and Mendis’s partnership took Sri Lanka close to the total

Asia Cup 2023: Sri Lanka defeat Pakistan in a last-ball thriller to set a date with India in the final on Sunday | Sportz Point
Samarawickrama and Mendis’s 100-run partnership from 98 balls helped Sri Lanka go close to Pakistan’s target. Image: AFP/Getty Images

Both Samarawickrama and Mendis looked comfortable in the middle while Paksitani bowlers looked for wickets in the middle overs. Their partnership soon crossed the fifty mark as Kusal Mendis completed his third fifty of the Asia Cup 2023. But, their 100-run partnership from 98 balls came to an end when Iftikhar Ahmed dragged Sadeera Samarawickrama out for a stumping. Rizwan was quick there as Samarawickrama departed for 48 with Sri Lanka needing 73 from 72 balls.

Read Also: Jadeja becomes India’s most successful Asia Cup bowler

Sri Lanka surely had the upper hand even after losing their third as Kusal Mendis looked solid against both pace and spin. Rizwan dropping Charith Asalanka on 10 helped them too. But, Mendis could not finish the job for Sri Lanka as he was dismissed in the nervous nineties (91 from 87 balls) again. Iftikhar Ahmed was the bowler again for Pakistan with the breakthrough. However, with 41 needing from 40 balls, it was surely Sri Lanka’s game to lose.

Pakistan kept on fighting to reach the Asia Cup 2023 final

Iftikhar Ahmed was a lone fighter in the middle overs for Pakistan against Sri Lanka taking 50 for 3 in his 8 overs. | Sportz Point
Iftikhar Ahmed was a lone fighter in the middle overs for Pakistan against Sri Lanka taking 50 for 3 in his 8 overs. Image: AFP/Getty Images

But, Pakistan kept on fighting as Iftikhar Ahmed again proved to be their main man with the ball. Iftikhar dismissed Sri Lankan captain Dasun Shanaka for 2 while the required run rate went over seven for the first time in the game. With 28 needed from 24 balls, Babar brought his main man Shaheen Shah Afridi into the attack. Although he gave way 8 runs in that over, Afridi ensured he made a solid comeback in the penultimate over of the match.

Asia Cup 2023, Sri Lanka vs Pakistan: Shaheen Shah Afridi took two wickets in the penultimate over to keep Pakistan in the hunt | Sportz Point
Shaheen Shah Afridi took two wickets in the penultimate over to keep Pakistan in the hunt. Image: AFP/Getty Images

Shaheen first got rid of Dhananjaya de Silva and then dismissed Dunith Wellalage in the next ball to give some hope to Pakistani fans. With 8 needed from the final over, Babar trusted debutant Zaman Khan to take them home. Zaman did well in the first four balls, giving away only two. But, on the fifth ball, Asalanka found a thick edge past the keeper for a four to leave it with 2 from last ball for the win. On the last ball, Zaman decided to bowl a slower ball on the pads and Charith Asalanka was calm enough to clip it towards deep square leg for the two runs they need to qualify for the Asia Cup final for the 11th time.

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