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Rediff.com  » Cricket » How Pakistan Was Eliminated From Asia Cup

How Pakistan Was Eliminated From Asia Cup

By REDIFF CRICKET
September 15, 2023 12:04 IST
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Sri Lanka

 

The virtual semi-final between Sri Lanka and Pakistan largely favoured the hosts after Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama formed a formidable partnership, chasing a revised target of 252 runs under the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) method, in the Asia Cup Super 4 match at Colombo's R Premadasa stadium on Thursday, September 14, 2023.

The tide began to turn when Iftikhar Ahmed, with his part-time off-spin, started making inroads into the Sri Lankan middle-order.

Iftikhar first dismissed Samarawickrama, who was just two runs short of his half-century, and then claimed Mendis' crucial wicket when he was just nine runs away from a century. Sri Lanka's captain, Dasun Shanaka, fell victim to Iftikhar an over later.

Despite these setbacks, the required run rate remained within Sri Lanka's reach, thanks to Charith Asalanka and Dhananjaya de Silva, who ensured it stayed under six runs per over.

However, the last two overs of the match brought unexpected twists. As Sri Lanka faced the daunting task of scoring 12 runs from the last two overs with five wickets in hand, Pakistan appeared to be on the verge of victory.

Shaheen Afridi, in a brilliant display of world-class bowling, turned the game around in Pakistan's favour during the penultimate over. The left-arm pacer conceded only three runs in his first three deliveries and then took two wickets off the fourth and fifth balls, with just a single run off the final ball.

Sri Lanka needed 8 runs from the last 6 balls with three wickets in hand, and Asalanka's presence still gave them an advantage. However, Afridi's performance had given Pakistan renewed hope.

Zaman Khan

IMAGE: Zaman Khan had a topsy-turvy ODI debut. Photograph: ICC/X

Pakistan's captain, Babar Azam, entrusted the ball to Zaman Khan, a debutant who had only recently joined the Asia Cup squad.

Zaman, with his slingy action, bowled four exceptional deliveries, giving away only two runs. The pressure had shifted to Sri Lanka. They required 6 runs from the final two deliveries.

Zaman attempted to deliver a wide yorker to Asalanka, who swung his bat vigorously, getting an outside edge that raced to the boundary. Zaman was devastated, realising that luck had abandoned him when he needed it most.

The tension on Babar's face was palpable as he approached the young pacer for a lengthy conversation. The outcome was a slower ball on the off stump, which Asalanka elegantly flicked towards the vacant fine-leg region.

The Sri Lankan batsmen easily completed two runs, and their celebrations began. The crowd erupted in joy, while Babar appeared in disbelief, gesturing as if to question the fielder's positioning or the bowler's choice.

Zaman was crestfallen, sinking to his knees and remaining motionless. Moments later, the Pakistan players gathered around Zaman to offer support.

Babar Azam

Shaheen was seen patting the right-arm pacer on his back, and Zaman wiped his face. The outcome was clear: Pakistan was eliminated from the Asia Cup.

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