Pakistan batters Mohammad Rizwan and Iftikhar Ahmed on Thursday helped their side to post a competitive 252-run total for Sri Lanka to win the crucial match which is being seen as the “virtual semi-final” of Asia Cup 2023.
The two resumed the innings after a rain delay that reduced the fixture to 42 overs per side. Despite trouble halfway into the innings, the batting duo lifted Pakistan score near to 250, before power hitter Iftikhar was caught.
Pakistan suffered a major blow when skipper Babar Azam was trapped by Dunith Wellalage in the 16th over after scoring 29 runs. This followed with a quick succession of dismissals by the Sri Lankan bowlers.
After a rain delay before the start of the match, Pakistan opted to bat first against Sri Lanka, which is seen as a virtual semi-final of the Asia Cup 2023.
The toss for the match was delayed after rain started just minutes before the toss was due.
The crucial match is the fourth Pakistan clash in the tournament that is threatened by rains. Previously, all games the Green Shirts have played in the Island nation were affected by heavy showers.
Even though Pakistan had announced their playing XI a day earlier but Imam and Saud Shakeel were dropped last minute. Imam was dropped due to a back spasm and has been replaced by Fakhar Zaman, while Saud has a fever and has been replaced by Abdullah Shafique.
Both sides are coming off dispiriting losses to India in their own way. Sri Lanka could have all but booked a ticket to the final had they chased down what appeared a very gettable target of 214 against India on Tuesday, but Dunith Wellalage’s heroics with bat and ball fell just short.
Pakistan’s defeat at their biggest rivals’ hands was more comprehensive; they lost by a record 228 runs over two horror days that also saw them lose two of their three premier fast bowlers.
Moreover, Naseem Shah has been ruled out of the tournament, and Haris Rauf is almost equally unlikely to feature again.
Today’s game is now a virtual semi-final for both sides, and one strong performance will give them the chance to make amends for it all in the final. If the match today is washed out, Sri Lanka will fix its place in the final since they have a higher run rate than the Green Shirts.
Pakistan: Mohammad Haris, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam (capt), Mohammad Rizwan (wkt), Abdullah Shafique, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan (vice-capt), Mohammad Nawaz, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Wasim, Zaman Khan
Sri Lanka: Kusal Perera, Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis (wkt), Sadeera Samarawickrama, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dasun Shanaka (capt), Dunith Wellalage, Maheesh Theekshana, Pramod Madushan, Matheesha Pathirana