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In nail-biting match, Sri Lanka beat Pakistan to reach Asia Cup 2023 final

Charith Asalanka plays a shot while Mohammad Rizwan looks on during Pakistan vs Sri Lanka match at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. — Sri Lanka Cricket

Sri Lanka on Thursday defeated Pakistan by two wickets in a last-ball thriller to set up a final with India for the Asia Cup 2023.

The nail-biting match ended with Asalanka finishing the game for the home side and taking them to the 252-run target.

The final of the Asia Cup 2023 will now be played between Sri Lanka and India on Saturday, September 17 in Colombo.

Charith Asalanka remained calm as the responsibility to take his team over the line in the last few overs fell on his shoulders but he batted with patience.

The match at one point during the last over was in favour of the away side, thanks to Zaman Khan’s brilliance, as they just needed to defend six runs in the last two balls.

But Asalanka got an outside edge on the second last ball of the match and the ball touched the boundary line.

Sri Lanka needed two off one when Zaman bowled a slower length ball on the pads, but the left-handed batter held his nerves and played a simple shot towards the deep square leg fence and celebrated as he ran two across the pitch to guide his side to a historic win.

Talking in a post-match ceremony, he opened up on his thought process behind the last-ball victory.

“I just thought how can I get two to hit a gap and run hard because it is a big field and just told Pathirana to run hard. I thought either he will bowl a bouncer or a yorker and then he bowled a slower ball, so it was in my side. I am very excited. Mendis and Sadeera batted really well. I wanted to finish. That is my role. I can rank this innings second place in my book,” he said.

Chasing the target of 252 runs, Sri Lanka looked favourites from the start with their batters playing mature and sensible innings.

Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama built a crucial 100-run partnership and put their side in a dominating position.

Mendis got out after scoring 91 runs while Samarawickrama was just two runs shy of his half-century when he fell prey to Iftikhar Ahmed.

Iftikhar delivered for his side not just with the bat but also with the ball and took three important and timely wickets but his heroics went in vain.

Batting first, Pakistan posted 252 runs on the scoreboard thanks to Mohammad Rizwan and Iftikhar combining forces for their side.

Rizwan played an unbeaten 86 off 73 with nine boundaries while Abdullah Shafique scored his maiden ODI half-century and was the second top-scorer for the Green Shirts.

Earlier, Pakistan won the toss and opted to bat first. The match was reduced to 45 overs and then 42 due to rain.

Playing XI

Pakistan: Mohammad Haris, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam (capt), Mohammad Rizwan (wkt), Abdullah Shafique, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan (vice-capt), Mohammad Nawaz, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Wasim, Zaman Khan

Sri Lanka: Kusal Perera, Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis (wkt), Sadeera Samarawickrama, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dasun Shanaka (capt), Dunith Wellalage, Maheesh Theekshana, Pramod Madushan, Matheesha Pathirana 

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