In a nail-biting super four match of the Asia Cup, Sri Lanka clinched a thrilling victory over Pakistan, winning by two wickets via the DLS method. Although Mohammad Rizwan's undefeated 86 and Iftikhar Ahmed's 47 powered Pakistan to 252 in a rain-affected 42-over contest, Kusal Mendis' stellar 91 combined with Charith Asalanka and Sadeera Samarawickrama's contributions ensured Sri Lanka's spot in the final against India.
Sri Lanka vs Pakistan Highlights: Asia Cup 2023's Road to the Final Showdown
Cricket • 15 Sept, 2023 • 1,108 Views
By: Anand Swami
Mohammad Rizwan & Iftikhar Ahmed's Solid Stand
Rain shortened the match to a 42-over-a-side contest, but that didn't dampen Pakistan's spirits. Mohammad Rizwan stood resolutely with an unbeaten 86, whilst Iftikhar Ahmed contributed a crucial 47, weaving together a 108-run partnership. This robust partnership played a pivotal role, aiding Pakistan in setting a challenging total of 252 for 7.
Kusal Mendis Steers Sri Lanka's Chase
Kusal Mendis was the backbone of the Sri Lankan chase. Notching up a brilliant 91, Mendis sustained his rich vein of form in the tournament. His departure in the 90s, for the second time in the series, left the Sri Lankan supporters anxious, especially given the mounting pressure in the match's final stages.
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The Turnaround: Shaheen Afridi's Magic Over
Sri Lanka seemed in control for the majority of their innings. However, the match experienced a dramatic turn when Shaheen Shah Afridi delivered a game-changing over. Pakistan's bowlers stretched the match to its absolute limits, making for a riveting encounter. Yet, Charith Asalanka's composed finish, securing the win for Sri Lanka with a last-ball flick, will undoubtedly be the talking point.
Tactics and Choices: Babar's Captaincy under the Lens
With rain on the horizon and decision-making paramount, Babar Azam's tactics came under scrutiny. Choosing to bowl first after winning the toss, considering the impending rain, was viewed as a gamble. Moreover, Babar's reliance on certain bowlers, notably Iftikhar, at pivotal moments spotlighted the challenges Pakistan faced in their bowling lineup.
The Inevitable Climax
The culmination of the match was fraught with tension and drama. Whilst Sri Lanka was on the brink of their target, hope still flickered for Pakistan. Despite Shaheen's recent form slump and an almost impotent Pakistani attack, Iftikhar rose as their most effective bowler in this contest. But when the dust settled, it was Sri Lanka's resolve and determination that truly sparkled.
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Injury Concerns for the Final
Amidst the cricketing drama, Sri Lanka encountered a potential hurdle with Maheesh Theekshana straining his right hamstring. The injury, incurred whilst fielding might be pivotal for Sri Lanka's strategies in the final against India. With a scan scheduled for the next day, both the team and fans are keenly awaiting the outcome, praying for Theekshana's swift recovery.
The match showcased an electrifying fusion of strategy, skill, and a touch of fortune. From Rizwan and Iftikhar's steadfast partnership and Mendis' commanding form to Babar's debatable tactics and the final-minute twists introduced by Shaheen Afridi, the match was a spectacle for the ages. Whilst Sri Lanka anticipates defending their title against India, Pakistan will undoubtedly reflect, especially with the World Cup looming.
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