Sri Lanka played better cricket: Captain Babar Azam on Pakistan’s Asia Cup 2023 elimination

Sri Lanka and Pakistan produced a thriller in their last Super Four clash in the Asia Cup on Thursday (September 14). Competing with each other for the remaining spot in the tournament final — with India qualifying on Tuesday (September 12) — the two Asian giants produced a riveting clash, in a rain-marred contest, where Kusal Mendis’ 91 and Charith Asalanka’s 49* propelled their side to a two-wicket win.

Opting to bat first, at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, Babar Azam-led Men in Green posted 252 for 7 in a 42-over contest (which was initially a 45-over affair before another rain break reduced it further). Md Rizwan stood tall with an impressive 86 not out, Abdullah Shafique’s 52 and Iftikhar Ahmed’s 47 took them to a competitive score. In reply, the Lankans ticked the basics and were cruising at 210 for 3 before a flurry of wickets opened the contest and took it to the final over.

Eventually, the Islanders edged past Pakistan on the last ball to set up a final clash versus India. With this, Pakistan — the No. 1 ODI side — have bowed out of the competition with two successive losses in the Super Four round (having earlier lost to India by 228 runs). After the match, captain Babar said in the post-match presentation, “We just decided to bowl our best overs and asked Shaheen to bowl the second last over and believed in Zaman. Sri Lanka played very well, better cricket than us.”

“We have not been up to the mark in the bowling and fielding. That is why we lost the match. In the middle overs, we did not bowl well. That partnership cost us. We started well, ended well, but middle overs were not great. We have lacked that,” Babar added.

Sri Lanka have now entered their 11th Asia Cup final where they will meet Rohit Sharma-led India on September 17 (Sunday) at the same venue in Colombo. Meanwhile, there was a chance for India and Pakistan to lock horns in the final for the first time in the continental tournament’s history, however, the wait continues.

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