Charith Asalanka played a superb unbeaten innings of 49 runs, after Kusal Mendis (91) and Sadeera Samarawickrama’s (48) stitched together a solid 100-run partnership, leading Sri Lanka to a thrilling two-wicket win over Pakistan in the final Super 4 match of the Asia Cup. With this result, the Lankans have secured their place in the final against India. It will be their 11th appearance in the Asia Cup final and their second consecutive one.
Once again, rain played spoilsport and the match had to be reduced to 42-overs-a-side. Sri Lanka were made to chase a revised target of 252 runs set by Pakistan. The latter recovered from a precarious 130/5, thanks to a solid partnership between Mohammad Rizwan (86 not out) and Iftikhar Ahmed (47). However, Sri Lanka’s middle order later batted remarkably well to chase down the target.
Kusal Mendis played a pivotal role, stabilising the innings after the early loss of Kusal Perera (17). Mendis formed crucial partnerships with Pathun Nissanka (29) and Sadeera Samarawickrama (48), taking Sri Lanka to 177/2. Although Mendis fell just short of a century, his innings that featured featuring eight boundaries and one six was instrumental in Sri Lanka’s victory.
After he was dismissed, the Lankans faced some tense moments, with skipper Dasun Shanaka also getting out quickly. However, Charith Asalanka’s composed unbeaten 49 guided the hosts to a crucial win, even as they lost a couple of wickets in Shaheen Afridi’s over. Sri Lanka needed seven runs from the last six deliveries. With some tight bowling, Zaman Khan brought that down to six runs off 2 balls.
However, Asalanka scored the winning runs, helping Sri Lanka reach 252/8 in their allotted 42 overs.
Earlier, Pakistan relied on a 108-run sixth wicket partnership between Mohammad Rizwan and Iftikhar Ahmed, the highest in Asia Cup history. Together, they salvaged Pakistan’s innings after the team had lost early wickets. Despite struggling initially, the rain delay favoured the Pakistani batters, as the conditions improved for batting. Both Rizwan and Iftikhar made good use of the conditions, with Rizwan scoring 86 off 73 balls and the latter contributing 47 runs from 40 deliveries.
Matheesa Pathirana was Sri Lanka’s standout performer with the ball, picking up important wickets, including well-set batsmen Abdullah Shafique and Mohammad Harris. He finished with figures of 3/65 in his 8 overs.
After DLS came into play, the match was reduced to 42 overs a side. Pakistan ended their innings at 252, before Sri Lanka successfully chased down the target in what turned out to be a thrilling contest.