One of the finest cricketing contests of the Asia Cup 2023 unfolded on Thrusday day as Sri Lanka edged Pakistan in a last-ball thriller to enter the final of the tournament. It was Sri Lanka's Kusal Mendis produced an outstanding 91 while Charith Asalanka gave him good company with a gutsy unbeaten 49 to set up the final against India. Pakistan looked to have done well to pull themsleves in the winning position after Shaheen Afridi's spectacular penultimate over. but, Sri Lanka reached the target of 252 runs, scoring 6 runs from the last 2 balls.
Half-centuries from Abdullah Shafique (52) and Mohammad Rizwan (86 not out) had led Pakistan to a competitive 252 for 7 off 42 overs after electing to bat on another rain-affected day.
But Sri Lanka replied in kind through Mendis and Asalanka as they inched past the target off the last ball of the match, also spoiling the possibility of an Indo-Pak summit clash.
After Kusal Perera departed early, Mendis in the company of Pathum Nissanka (29) steadied the Lankan innings with a 57-run stand for the second wicket.
But an even better passage was in the waiting for the Lankans, despite Nissanka spooning a return catch to Shadab Khan.
Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama (48 off 51 balls) added 100 runs for the third wicket, as Lanka gradually bridged the gap.
Mendis is blessed with natural striking prowess and timing, and his knock was a validation of that. The right-hander used his feet well against spinners, and faced the quicker lot with assurance.
Samarawickrama, even though he was pinged on the helmet once by Shaheen Afridi, kept his end going with some sensible cricket.
But a momentary rush ended his stay. Iftikhar caught him in no-man's land with a slightly fuller length ball, and Rizwan made an easy stumping.
Mendis milked a further 33 runs along with Asalanka, but Iftikhar returned to dismiss him.
Mendis' effort to turn the ball off his pads resulted in a leading edge, which was caught superbly by a diving Mohamamd Harris.
Thereafter Sri Lanka fell into panic mode, losing four wickets in as many overs and it seemed that they were on the verge of botching up the chase.
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Sri Lanka takes that spot in the finals as they end Pakistan's journey in this tournament
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Earlier, Shafique and Rizwan propped up Pakistan innings with fine fifties. Pakistan also received some late push from Iftikhar Ahmed (47 off 40 balls).
With PTI inputs
(This story has not been edited by Thepearl staff and is auto-generated from an NDTV Sports Feed.)