Lanka wins thriller to enter final

Sri Lanka made a thrilling 2-wicket win (DLS) over Pakistan to enter the final of the Asia Cup, played at the R. Premadasa Stadium yesterday. Charith Asalanka made the 2 winning runs with an unbeaten 49 in 47 balls.

Chasing a 252-run target in 42 overs, Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama made a fine batting display while the pair put on a 100- run third wicket stand to build up the innings.
The deputy skipper Mendis took full responsibility and came to the front after the dismissal of opener Kusal Janith Perera who started his usual innings. Kusal Janith played aggressively collecting 17 in 8 balls with four well-timed boundaries but was unfortunately run out in the fourth over. Pathum Nissanka who made 29 in 44 balls with 4 fours, also added 57 runs for the second wicket with Kusal Mendis. Nissanka departed with off a return catch taken by leg spinner Shadab Khan in the 14th over.

Mendis and Samarawickrama’s combination built up high expectations to reach the target while Samarawickrama was stumped by wicket-keeper Mahommed Rizwan off the bowling of off-spinner Iftikhar Ahmed. He scored 48 in 51 balls with 4 fours while Mendis joined Charith Asalanka to repair the innings. Mendis who was heading for his third ODI century got out for 91 by Iftikhar Ahmed with Mohammed Harris taking a stunning catch at extra cover.

Skipper Dasun Shanaka was promoted ahead of Dhananjaya de Silva but failed once again to impress with the bat scoring only 2 in 4 balls while Dhananjaya de Silva and Charith Asalanka was close to the target but Dhananjaya who scored 5 in 7 balls out at 40.4 overs. In the final over bowled by Zaman Khan Sri Lanka needed 8 runs to win and Charith Asalanka hit four runs and 2 runs in the last ball to seal their victory. Kusal Mendis was named Man of the Match.

Maheesh Theekshana strained his right hamstring and will undergo a scan to fully assess his condition.

Pakistan skipper Babar Azam won the toss and without any hesitation, decided to bat first with high expectations to set a challenging total.

The openers Abdullah Shafique and Fakhar Zaman were not able to make a good start while paceman Promod Madushan made the first breakthrough to depart Zaman (4 in 11 balls) who was clean bowled with a superb ball which swung into the wicket.

Skipper Babar Azam and Shafique tried to repair the innings by adding 64 runs for the second wicket while Azam was in an aggressive mood to collect runs.

Young leg spinner Dunith Wellalage came into the attack as number four bowler once again produced successful results as Babar Azam the skipper was out for 29 in 35 balls with 3 fours while Kusal Mendis stumped Babar Azam off Wellalage.

The opener Shafique continued his innings to reach his fifty in 65 balls with 3 fours and 2 sixes while at 24 th over which was bowled by young paceman Matheesha Pathirana got Shafique’s wicket as Promod Madushan took a catch at deep square leg and Pakistan reached 100 for 3 wickets.

Two quick wickets were down Mohammed Haris (3 in 9 balls) and Mohammed Nawaz (12 in 12 balls with 2 fours) and Pakistan were 130 for 5 wickets in 27.4 overs before rain interrupted the game once again.

Iftikhar Ahmed and wicket-keeper Mohammed Rizwan once again repaired the innings adding 108 runs which was the turning point of the match. Rizwan played aggressively hitting an unbeaten 86 in 73 balls with 6 fours and 2 sixes while Iftikhar Ahmed played a good supporting role by scoring 47 in 40 balls with 4 fours and 2 sixes.

Matheesha Pathirana the paceman was the most successful bowler taking 3 for 65 in his 8-over spell while Pramod Madushan who played his first game of this tournament finished with 2 for 58.

Earlier the game started at 5.15 pm due to rain and was reduced to 45 overs per side.

Sri Lanka made two changes as Kusal Janith Perera and Promod Madushan replaced opener Dimuth Karunaratne and paceman Kasun Rajitha.