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Asia Cup: Sri Lanka won by 2 wickets against Pakistan and to play final against India

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That is what happened. Sri Lanka won against Pakistan by 2 wickets and entered the final. Pakistan has withdrawn from the tournament. Kushal Mendis and Asalanka’s efforts in reaching the target with consistent batting despite rain interruptions is commendable. It is ready to face India once again in the final.

Sri Lanka defeated Pakistan in a last-ball cliffhanger by two wickets, courtesy a platform-setting innings by Kusal Mendis, and a crucial finish by Charith Asalanka. A chase of 252 in 42 overs was always going to be a tall order, but a couple of healthy middle-order partnerships set the stage for Sri Lanka to pull off a stunning run-chase against a potent Pakistan attack.

Chasing 252, Kusal Perera got off to the briefest of flyers, smashing four boundaries in seven balls, before a stunning direct hit from Shadab Khan at point caught Perera short at the bowler’s end, despite a desperate dive. The early setback didn’t dishearten Sri Lanka, as Kusal Mendis joined Pathum Nissanka at the crease, maintaining the required run-rate in a half-century stand, before the latter skied a return catch to Shadab.

It was then that Sadeera Samarawickrama joined Mendis at the crease, and scored at a good clip, punishing the poor balls, and more importantly, rotating the strike so that the bowlers couldn’t work them over. Furthermore, a bouncer from Shaheen Afridi hit Samarawickrama on the helmet, forcing a concussion test. However, the Sri Lankan batter seemed to have been saved by his helmet, and went on to put up a hundred-run stand with Mendis.

However, the very next ball, Samarawickrama stepped out to Iftikhar Ahmed, flicking for the non-existent spin, and getting stumped in the process. Another 33-run stand ensued, between Asalanka and Mendis, but the latter popped a leading edge to cover where Mohammad Haris picked up a phenomenal catch diving forward.

And then, it began – a procession, that started at 210-3 and ended at 246-8 to give us a thrilling finish. Shanaka departed soon after, once again to Iftikhar, who was proving to be a thorn in Sri Lanka’s flesh. At the other end, Asalanka kept up with the required rate with some well-timed boundaries, but it was then that Shaheen Shah Afridi picked up two wickets in an over, giving away just four runs, and leaving Sri Lanka in a precarious position – 8 to win off 6, with three wickets remaining.

A headless Pramod was run-out in the final over, but not before giving Asalanka the strike. The latter was under pressure after Zaman Khan had conceded only two off the first four, but edged the penultimate ball for four to tilt the balance Sri Lanka’s way. The final ball was a slower half-volley on the pads, that Asalanka clipped away to win the match, sending the Colombo crowd into delirium over an hour past midnight.

Earlier, Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat first, but lost Fakhar Zaman early. After Abdullah Shafique and Babar Azam’s half-century stand, Pakistan were ailed by a middle-order collapse before the rain break, imploding to 130-5. However, a century stand between Mohammad Rizwan and Iftikhar Ahmed rescued them, and a late counterattack by the pair took Pakistan to a competitive total, which proved just short of enough in the end.

This is the eleventh time Sri Lanka have made it to the Asia Cup final. They will face India in the final on Sunday (September 17).

Brief ScoresPakistan 252-7 in 42 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 86*, Abdullah Shaique 52, Matheesha Pathirana 3-65) lost to Sri Lanka 252-8 in 42 overs (Kusal Mendis 91, Charith Asalanka 49*, Iftikhar Ahmed 3-50) by 2 wickets

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