Babar Azam's side suffered a heartbreaking 2-wicket defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka and failed to reach the final of the Asia Cup 2023
By PakPassion Staff (14 September, 2023)
The R.Premadasa Stadium in Colombo was set alight into the wee hours of the morning as Sri Lanka pulled off a nail-biter against Pakistan to book their place in the Asia Cup final. The atmosphere was electric; both teams' fates dangled by a thread until the final ball. In the end, it was Sri Lanka who emerged victorious, winning by two wickets via the DLS method after rain disrupted the game.
From Underdogs to Finalists
Sri Lanka came into this high-stakes match as the underdog, but they surely didn't play like one. With their backs against the wall, Charith Asalanka, the man of the hour, lifted an entire nation with the most nonchalant of flicks behind square. With 252 runs on the board for both sides and the tension mounting in the last ball, Asalanka exhibited the calm of a seasoned veteran. He scored 49 off 47 balls, making his runs count when it mattered most.
Pakistan's Rollercoaster Ride
Pakistan didn't have the smoothest of starts as their opening bowlers leaked runs. A spark of brilliance came from Iftikhar Ahmed who "chanced his arm" and managed to break Sri Lanka's promising partnership between Sadeera Samarawickrama and Kusal Mendis. But the story was in Pakistan's bowling; their over-reliance on Shaheen Afridi to deliver upfront came back to haunt them in crunch moments. Afridi, who bowled a tight penultimate over, managed to pick up two crucial wickets but it wasn’t enough to cross the finish line.
The Thrill of the Chase
When it came to the final stretch, all eyes were on Zaman Khan, the young 22-year-old. While Zaman did keep it tight, luck did not go in the way of the debutant. He couldn't keep the rampaging Asalanka at bay on the last ball, as Sri Lanka needed just two runs to win. Asalanka shimmied and flicked the ball behind square, triggering euphoria in the stands. It was a moment that will go down in the history of Sri Lanka cricket.
Sri Lanka's win is a testament to their resilience and how crucial individual brilliance can be in a team sport. Pakistan, although falling short, had their moments too, giving us a cricketing spectacle that will be talked about for days to come. What stands out from this duel is the intensity and the cliffhanger moments that make one-day international cricket so lovable. It was a reality check for Pakistan and a morale booster for Sri Lanka. Pakistan will take their lessons as they set their sights on the World Cup. For now, Sri Lanka will look forward to the Asia Cup final, riding high on a wave of confidence and national pride.