SL vs PAK: In a Close Encounter Pakistan got eliminated from the Asia Cup
In a virtual semi-final, Sri Lanka faced the co-hosts Pakistan. The team that would win the match, would have faced India in the Finals. Efforts from Abdullah Shafique, Mohd Rizwan, Matheesha Pathirana, Kusal Mendis, and Charith Asalanka thrilled the viewers and kept the game exciting. Colombo’s R Premadasa Stadium hosted the thriller, as it has been happening for the past few games, rain disturbed the play. The game started 2 hours after the original starting time, with five overs lost.
Winning the toss, the Men in Green elected to bat. Fakhar Zaman and Abdullah Shafique opened the batting, while Pramod with a ball in hand, started his tally of overs with a maiden. Trying to build pressure on Pakistan, the Srilankan opening bowlers, Thekshana and Pramod, bowled tighter lines. At the end of the fifth over, the score was 13/1, where the Pakistan managed to score only a single boundary till that time. As the game progressed Pakistan struggled to score boundaries and accelerate the scoring rate. By the time the game reached the 10 over mark, the batters only managed to score three boundaries, as the score reached 40/1, with Babar and Shafique at the crease.
Babar, who was almost set at the crease, desperately accelerated the score. In an attempt to play a stroke, Babar advanced and got stumped by Kusal Mendis. From 73/2 to 130/5 wickets kept falling at regular intervals, till the rain interrupted and reduced the game to 42 overs. Iftikhar and Rizwan on the crease started bashing the Lankan bowlers to every part of the ground, soon building a 108-run stand, when Iftikhar got caught at mid-on. The counter-attack from Rizwan continued, bringing Pakistan to a fighting total of 252 in 42 overs.
Starting the second innings, Kusal Perera with Pathum Nisanka took matters into his own hands. Parera who was scoring at a strike rate above 200, got dismissed due to an unfortunate run-out and got dismissed for 17 off 8 deliveries. Kusal Mendis replaced Perera on the crease. The two batters built a decent 57-run stand when Shadab got Nisanka off a brilliant c&b. Sadeera and Mendis did not allow the run flow to drop as Sadeera started to attack in the early stage of his innings. He along with Kusal moved the score forward to 177/3, before getting stumped by Rizwan off Iftikhar. Another partnership also started to bud between Mendis and Asalanka but was soon broken, when Iftikhar deceived Mendis and Mohd Haris caught it at extra cover.
As the match progressed, the pressure started to build on both sides. The match went down the wire when Srilanka needed six off two balls. Aslanka on strike hit a four in the first, and the score reduced to two of one. Aslanka flicked the last ball that Zaman bowled to him on pads, clinging to a victory in a close encounter. The Lankans marched to the finals. The fans of Indian and Pakistani teams will be disappointed as they missed yet another India vs. Pakistan match, that too in the final. A Well-deserved Lanka will play in their second consecutive Final of the Tournament.