Asia Cup 2023, Sri Lanka vs Pakistan: Mohamad Rizwan's 86, Kusal Mendis' 91 and Matheesha Pathirana's 3-65 are top performances. Sri Lanka beat Pakistan by 2 wickets in the Super 4 game and qualify for the final.
Brief Scores: Pakistan 252/7 in 45 overs (Rizwan 86*, Shafique 52, Pathirana 3/65) lost to Sri Lanka 252/8 (Mendis 91, Asalanka 49*, Iftikhar 3/50) by 2 wickets.
Player Of The Match: Kusal Mendis (91 off 87)
In what was a virtual semifinal at the Asia Cup 2023, the defending champions from the last edition, Sri Lanka, took on Pakistan at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. The winner would go on to face India in the Asia Cup 2023 finale clash.
Sri Lanka held their nerve in the last-ball finish and booked a ticket to the Asia Cup final along with India.
Babar Azam’s Pakistan won the toss in this hugely important game, and the team had made a lot of changes to their playing XI since their huge loss to India. Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah missed out due to their respective injuries, as did Agha Salman. Zaman Khan made his ODI debut, while Mohammad Wasim made an appearance. Abdullah Shafique and Mohammad Haris also got a game.
Kusal Perera made a comeback for Sri Lanka, replacing veteran Dimuth Karunaratne. Pramod Madushan got a look in for this crucial game.
Talking Points from Sri Lanka vs Pakistan
Sri Lanka’s batting has been impressive throughout the campaign, with different batters performing at different times. Today, it was the turn of Kusal Mendis to put up a match-winning show alongside some important contributions from Nissanka, Samarawickrama, and Asalanka.
Rain delayed proceedings, and as a result, it was reduced to the 45-over contest. Madushan quickly made his presence felt with the scalp of Fakhar Zaman, but the duo of Babar Azam and Abdullah Shafique gave the Pakistan innings stability. But last match hero Dunith Wellalage bowled a ripper to dismiss the Pakistan skipper for 29, and a mini-collapse followed as they were reduced from 73/1 to 130/5 in the 28th over.
Just when Pakistan looked like it was crumbling, a bout of rain took players off the field, and the match was reduced to 42 sides a game. Post resumption, it was the Mohammad Rizwan show as he and Iftikhar Ahmed (47) added 108 runs in about 13 overs. Rizwan, the keeper-batter, remained unbeaten on 86 from just 73 balls as Pakistan reached 252/7 in 42 overs.
Chasing 252 in a must-win game, Kusal Perera struck 2 boundaries off the first over but fell in the form of a run-out for 17 from 8 balls to Shadab Khan. Then, it was a mini-stroke play exhibition out in the middle from the bats of Kusal Mendis and Pattum Nissanka. The latter especially played some exquisite strokes before being caught & bowled for 29 by Shadab.
Mendis continued his good work as he notched up his 3rd half-century of this Asia Cup, and his partnership with the in-form batter Sadeera Samarawickrama proved to be a game-changer as the pair scored run-a-ball 100 runs for the 3rd wicket. Mendis then departed after making a well-compiled 91 off just 87 balls. This, along with Charith Asalanka’s vital cameo, took Sri Lanka past the finish line by 2 wickets in what turned out to be a nail-biter of a finish, thanks to some splendid bowling display by Pakistan at the end.
Let's analyze the top performers from Sri Lanka vs Pakistan
Mohammad Rizwan’s 86 lifts the hopes of the Pakistani team
Mohammad Rizwan came in at the fall of skipper Babar’s wicket and had the role to take the innings deep as a senior player. He initially had the well-set Shafique for the company, but once the latter was dismissed, Pakistani innings fell through as Haris and Nawaz followed suit.
And it needed a Rizwan special to get the Pakistani innings back on track as the batter brought up his A game for the important game. He paced his innings very well, much like how he does in T20Is, and it brought the team great success. His unbeaten 86 came in just 73 balls and was instrumental in taking Pakistani total past 250.
Kusal Mendis’ 87-ball 91 does it for Sri Lanka
If Mohammad Rizwan was the hero with the bat for Pakistan, Kusal Mendis donned a similar role for Sri Lanka. The hosts had just lost Perera courtesy of a run-out when Mendis joined Nissanka at the crease. Together, they forged a 57-run stand for the 2nd wicket, and after losing Nissanka, Mendis combined with Samarawickrama in a partnership that all but brought curtains for Pakistan with a 100-run stand.
Mendis reached his half-century off just 47 balls, his 3rd of this campaign, and this one was really important for the Sri Lankan team on a very important night.
Matheesha Pathirana pulls back Pakistan
Pathirana, the bowler with a sling action, had a mixed start to innings as he was a bit expensive to start with. But when the partnership between Shafique and Rizwan was growing, Pathirana’s reintroduction to the attack immediately paid dividends as he dismissed the well-set Shafique for 52, followed by taking the wicket of Mohammad Haris.
This jolted Pakistan badly in the middle overs, and it needed a great knock by Rizwan to get them back on track. Pathirana eventually finished with figures of 3/65.
Asia Cup 2023, Super 4, Points Table
With this win, Sri Lanka will now face the Rohit Sharma-led Indian team in the final of the Asia Cu 2023. Sri Lanka had earlier lost to India in the Super 4 game.