In a nail-biting encounter that kept cricket fans on the edge of their seats, defending champions Sri Lanka secured a thrilling victory over Pakistan by two wickets on the last ball. This intense showdown was a must-win match for both teams, determining their entry into the Asia Cup 2023 final, where they will face India on September 17.
Sri Lanka’s Asia Cup final stint
Sri Lanka’s triumph marks their 12th appearance in the continental cup final, with 11 of them in the ODI format. Having won the coveted title six times in the past, they are no strangers to the pressures and expectations of such finals. Their opponents in the final, India, boast an impressive seven Asia Cup victories.
Pakistan’s competitive innings
This riveting game unfolded amidst changing fortunes, influenced by injuries and rain interruptions. Pakistan, plagued by injuries, batted first in this 42-overs-per-side contest, posting a competitive total of 252/7. Mohammad Rizwan‘s exceptional unbeaten knock of 86, supported by valuable contributions from Abdullah Shafique (52) and Iftikhar Ahmed (47), set the stage for a fiercely competitive encounter. Matheesha Pathirana‘s impressive performance, taking 3/65 for Sri Lanka, added further intrigue.
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Sri Lanka’s heroic response
Sri Lanka’s response was equally heroic. Guided by stellar performances from Kusal Mendis (91), Sadeera Samarawickrama (48) and Charith Asalanka (49), they managed to reach the target of 252 runs.
In the crucial moments of the fixture, Sri Lanka had a requirement of just 12 runs from the last two overs, having five wickets in hand. However, Shaheen Afridi‘s impressive bowling effort allowed Pakistan to make a comeback by conceding only four runs and taking two wickets, leaving Sri Lanka needing 8 more runs to win.
Debutant Zaman Khan then delivered a strong final over, making it a situation where Sri Lanka required six runs from the last two balls, with Asalanka facing. Showing great composure, the left-handed batter smashed a boundary towards third-man and then carefully placed the ball in the open deep square-leg area to secure the two runs needed to win the game.
Unique scenario in the match
The contest nevertheless witnessed an unusual turn of events related to the DLS method. Despite interruptions due to rain, Sri Lanka found themselves chasing the exact total Pakistan had set.
In standard cricket scenarios, the team batting first sets a target, and the chasing team must surpass it. Nonetheless, this particular game took an unconventional turn. Sri Lanka’s target remained 252 runs, which matched Pakistan’s total. This situation arose due to rain interruptions prompting the use of the DLS method, a standard procedure for adjusting targets in rain-affected fixtures.
Initially scheduled for 45 overs per side due to rain, the game faced further interruptions during Pakistan’s innings, shortening it to 42 overs per side. Despite Pakistan’s 252/7 in their 42 overs, the DLS method set Sri Lanka a target of 252 runs, one run less than it might have been in a typical situation.
Historic result in Sri Lanka vs Pakistan encounter
The clash between Sri Lanka and Pakistan in the coveted cup left a remarkable imprint on cricket history. In a truly extraordinary turn of events, the game achieved a distinction never seen before in international cricket. Despite both teams tallying identical runs within the same number of overs, there was no need for the usual tiebreaker.
Traditionally, such a situation would lead to a captivating tiebreaker to decide the winner. However, this exceptional match witnessed Sri Lanka securing victory without the necessity of any additional contest.
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