Asia Cup | Twitter reacts as Sri Lanka book final-date against India with last-ball thriller over Pakistan
Charith Asalanka was eventually the man of the moment for the Lions|
ESPN Cricinfo/ AFP
Sri Lanka came up crunch in a virtual semi-final against Pakistan at R Premadasa Stadium on Thursday to chase down 252 in the allotted 42 overs. Kusal Mendis' 91 set the stage before Charith Asalanka kept his calm to take the Lions to their 11th Asia Cup final with a two-wicket victory.
Pakistan skipper Babar Azam won the toss and decided to bat first once rain ceased to allow a 45-over contest but Fakhar Zaman failed to make the most of his captain's fortunes as he was castled by Pramod Madushan in the fifth over. Babar and Abdullah Shafique stabilized the innings with a 64-run partnership before Dunith Wellalage had the former stumped for 29 in the 16th over, the score reading 73/2. Shafique followed suit immediately after registering his half-century and the Lions added to the misery by striking twice in quick succession on the stroke of a rain interruption in the 28th over, to leave Pakistan reeling at 130/5. By the time the game began, three more overs per side had been washed off which brought about a change in momentum. Mohammad Rizwan and Iftikhar Ahmed put on 108 runs in just 77 balls for the sixth wicket, the latter contributing 47 while the former remained unbeaten on 86 at almost identical strike rates of 117-plus. Their efforts saw the Men in Green accumulate 102 runs in the last 10 overs, thus setting Sri Lanka a run-a-ball target of 252.
In response, the returning Kusal Perera started with a flurry, dispatching Pakistan's new-ball pair for four boundaries before Shadab Khan's bullet arm spelt his demise for a 7-ball 17 in an unfortunate run-out. Fellow opener Pathum Nissanka adopted a much quieter approach to his knock of 29, taking 44 balls to aggregate, before Shadab struck again only this time with the ball in hand. Nevertheless, with the score 77/2 in the 14th over, Sri Lanka never really looked in trouble and any residual concerns were alleviated once Sadeera Samarawickarama got going alongside Kusal Mendis. The latter rushed to his fifty in just 47 balls while the former contributed a vital 48 runs. By the time the 100-run partnership was ended, the Lions required 75 runs, which further whittled down to 42 at six an over when Mendis returned to the pavilion for an 87-ball 91. However, another quick blow by Iftikhar, his third in the game, followed by two on the trot for Shaheen Afridi in the penultimate over, made for a final twist in the tale. In the end, Charith Asalanka held his nerves to score the two required runs on the final ball and take the team across the line with his unbeaten 49.ODI cricket at it's best!
What a thriller!
What a review!
Congratulations Sri Lanka for Asia Cup Final.— Ashutosh Srivastava 🇮🇳 (@sri_ashutosh08) September 14, 2023
Babar Azam is in depression after lost match vs Sri Lanka and will not play final vs India 😅#AsianGames2023 #zimbabar#SLvsPAK #PAKvSL #AsiaCup23#BabarAzam #Shaheen #ShadabKhan #PakistanCricket pic.twitter.com/VjkAhZHpO1
You are a Fighter Team. 🇱🇰 Sri lanka what a great team , Sri Lanka FANS are outstanding.💪🙏🔥🔥🔥#Samarawickrama #Kusalmendis #Aslanka did magic. Love you 🇱🇰 ❤️#PAKvSL Congratulations on your fantastic win .You deserves this victory.#PakistanCricket 😂😂😂😂 nikalo BC. pic.twitter.com/2f0Ieutddk— rajat vaishnav (@Rj0007lover) September 14, 2023
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