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Asia Cup Super Four - Pakistan vs Sri Lanka, Colombo

Sri Lanka reach their 11th Asia Cup final and have a chance of holding both the T20 and ODI trophy title at the Asia Cup if they win against India this weekend.
India will have a chance to ease out any creases before the final in their last Super 4 game against Bangladesh tomorrow.
Pakistan came so close, but eventually, an overthrow run here and there, ended up costing them a lot in a game of fine margins. It is not easy being the away team when the home crowd has such strong backing, and they were behind in the game for 95% of the contest. However, they did have an outside chance at the death, and will be hurting they couldn’t get over the line.
No matter who’s missing they always find players who step up. Tonight Mendis laid the foundation and Asalanka finished the job congratulations on making another Asia Cup final @OfficialSL Wasim Jaffer.
Thank you all for your lovely company. The full report will be up on the homepages soon and you can follow the presentation ceremony on our ball-by-ball commentary page.

Babar sums up the game

Who bowls ninth over – decision: “We decided to bowl our best bowler in the end so wanted Shaheen to bowl the second last over. We had belief in Zaman Khan but unfortunately it didn’t finish off. Sri Lanka played better cricket than us. We have not done upto the mark in the bowling and fielding.”
Why you came second-best today – one major factor: “In the middle overs we did not bowl well. That partnership cost us. We started well and finished well but we didn’t take wickets in the middle overs. Pressure on other teams comes with middle-overs wickets.”
Catch up on what Kumble, Maharoof and Mumtaz think about this game while we catch our breath.
Video List
Matchday LIVE: Asalanka keeps his cool to take Sri Lanka in to the final in a last-ball thriller

Asalanka takes SL to the final!

A gentle nonchalant flick past backward square leg… and Sri Lanka are through to the Asia Cup final! Asalanka finishes on 49* in 47 balls, and there must be very few things in life that feel as good as finishing the game for your team in a knockout.
Asalanka: “(Last ball) I just thought how I can get – in the gap. And run hard because its a big field. Told Matheesha to run very hard and get two runs.(The last shot) Two things were in my mind. I thought he may bowl bouncer, otherwise yorker. When he did a slower ball yorker, it fell in my side. (Wickets falling – thoughts) Very exciting… still excited about that. Kusal Mendis and Sadeera laid the platform. I planned to finish the game. That’s my role. I can rank this innings in second place in my book.”
Both sides fought tooth and nail, but there can only be one winner…. a fitting match to decide the second finalist.

Its Zaman v Asalanka

Two balls. Six runs to win.
And Zaman Khan gets Asalanka’s outside edge…. but it goes past the keeper!
One to tie, two to win and the crowd is delirious.
If its a tie, we shall have a super over. Rizwan having a chat with Zaman. Babar adjusting his field. Quite a few boundary riders still there. Here’s the last ball…

Zaman – you beauty?

Zaman’s been searching for the yorker – and after four balls, he’s conceded only two and has forced Madushan to sacrifice his wicket in a bid to get Asalanka on strike. Sri Lanka need 6 off 2 now, with Pakistan now favourites.

Six balls to decide the contest

Forty-one out of 42 overs done.
And we have two great storylines awaiting us.
Sri Lanka could pull off a dramatic win in front of their home crowd to reach their 11th Asia Cup final.
Pakistan debutant Zaman Khan could take his team home into the finals and set up the very first India v Pakistan clash for the title.
Too close to call.

Shaheen delivers – Pakistan are back!

Sri Lanka start the over well with a few runs, but Shaheen finally gets a wicket, and it is Dhananjaya de Silva, who hits a knee-high full toss down long on’s throat. Sri Lanka need 9 in 8 balls… and in walks 20 year old Wellalage.
However, he edges one behind, and all of a sudden…. Sri Lanka need 9 in 7 with only three wickets in hand. Such is cricket…. a terrific unbeaten forty against India, followed by an opportunity to take SL home tonight, but Shaheen ended up showing his class. On a hat-trick with the No. 9 facing.
Madushan gets a single and Sri Lanka need 8 with Asalanka at the wrong end.

Babar backs the senior pro

Shaheen will bowl the ninth. Of course he will. The penultimate over of this fascinating game of ODI.
How much are Sri Lanka comfortable chasing in the final over? Nine? Here we go…

Three overs to go… the options for Babar

Since Shadab has already bowled nine overs, only one more bowler can bowl nine. Both Iftikhar and Shaheen have bowled eight, so the question is, who between the two will bowl a ninth?
For now, Iftikhar will not bowl the 40th, after the leadership group shares a chat.
Zaman Khan, the debutant, will bowl. And remember, he is great at the death with his bowling style. Starts off with a yorker…but once again tries a slower ball like Shaheen, and just like the previous occasion, Asalanka hammers it over mid off. Eight conceded in all – Sri Lanka need 12 in 12

First boundary in 36 balls!

Shaheen’s eighth over, the 39th, has five fast balls that are difficult to hit. But then he also bowls a slower ball, and Asalanka swats it away to find the first boundary in six overs.
In the grand scheme of things, a positive over for Sri Lanka, taking eight off the target. Sri Lanka need 20 in 18.

The game’s afoot!

Shanaka had the angle to slog sweep Iftikhar, but he slices the shot and Nawaz at long on takes a slider!
Iftikhar’s third wicket now, and he is single-handedly keeping Pakistan in the hunt. The asking rate has crept past 7 for the first time this innings as Iftikhar completes an eighth over with figures of 3-50.
Sri Lanka need 28 in 24 with DDS alongside Asalanka. Nobody has left their seat, even at 12.36am, and the significant number of Pakistan fans are finding their voice. The Sri Lankan fans are trying to drown it out and keep their own batters in high spirits.

33 needed in 30

Shaheen has a maximum of three overs he can bowl. And Babar wants him back to rattle Sri Lanka right now because there may not be enough runs left later.
Pakistan’s pacers have struggled in their last two games, if you look at the data. After taking 24 wickets in the first three games (with an average economy of 4.8) they’ve taken just one so far in the next two games (with an average economy of 6.5.
He starts off with two dots, but the second one brings two overthrow runs because Shadab had a snap-throw at the stumps. Shaheen looks at Shadab with disgust because Pakistan end up releasing the pressure that can come from two dot balls.
Sri Lanka’s game to lose, but next time around, they cannot afford another quiet Shaheen over.

Pin-drop silence…

Iftikhar Ahmed has prised out Kusal Mendis! A leading edge to cover means he has to walk back for his second score in the nineties at the Asia Cup. He has 25+ half-centuries in ODI cricket but only two centuries.
Mendis walks back disappointed knowing he didn’t finish the job. There’s still enough runs left for Pakistan to stage a late comeback. We’re already into No. 6, Dasun Shanaka. Sri Lanka need 41 in 40
Iftikhar has been excellent today, using his height to get some extra bounce. The older ball is also turning. Already has two wickets, very nearly had a third, and don’t forget his contribution with the bat.

Sadeera not down, but out

He’s walking back to a standing ovation…stumped off an Iftikhar delivery. Pakistan breathe a side of relief after Samarawickrama falls for 48. He was trying to be his usual busy self, attempting to knock a push towards the off side, but the ball went past his edge.
Next ball, Charith Asalanka puts Kusal Mendis in a tight position while attempting a run, however, they are safe.
Sri Lanka now need another strong partnership to take them towards the target, now only 73 runs away in 72 balls. Pakistan need to take wickets – especially Mendis’ who now is on 76 off 76. Doesn’t help when Rizwan drops Asalanka on 10 in the 32nd over.

Shadab has been expensive

There has been a lot of concern about Shadab’s bowling form. And today, too, it has been quite average. In his defense, the ball hasn’t turned much (barring the occasion one that spits) and batting has been pleasant on this surface.
This game is slipping further away from Pakistan though. Sri Lanka 175/2 in 29 overs needing 77 in 78.

Sadeera down, but not out

Desperate for a wicket, Babar brings back Shaheen. Shaheen doesn’t get wickets in his first two overs, but bowls a short ball that knocks Sadeera Samarawickrama (41* in 45 balls) on the floor. He seems OK after getting some help from the physio, and that brings some applause from the crowd, but they’ll have to do a concussion check.
His well-being is the No. 1 priority over here, but looks like he will continue batting with a new helmet. This partnership of 90 in 88 balls has ensured the RRR is only 6.

Sadeera Samarawickrama kept things ticking over in Sri Lanka's shortened chase•AFP/Getty Images

#InjuryWatch: Theekshana

Update on Maheesh Theekshana
Maheesh Theekshana has strained his right hamstring.
The player will undergo a scan tomorrow to fully assess his condition.
Theekshana sustained the injury while he was fielding during the ongoing game between Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Shadab swo ops in

Disastrous for Sri Lanka! Shadab Khan puts pressure on the openers from point with his fielding, and the reward is a run-out. Perera is the one gone, and the hesitation between him and Pathum Nissanka has seen the senior batter out for 17 in 8.
Perera was looking to take down Pakistan’s new-ball bowlers while Nissanka has not yet got off the mark in 12 deliveries. Sri Lanka 20/1 in 3.2 overs losing a wicket against the run of play with the batter looking more comfortable gone.
However, Nissanka does respond with back-to-back boundaries over the next few balls, and incoming batter Kusal Mendis also starts off with a four. It’s a good batting track, make no mistake.

#WatchOut for KJ Perera, Zaman Khan

It’s not often that Shaheen Shah Afridi gets smashed around in the first over, but Kusal Perera can do exactly that. He’s replaced Karunaratne at the top for this game, playing his first ODI in two years, and has started off with a flourish. Given his usual scoring pace, Sri Lanka would love for him to bat a while.
However, from the other end, debutant Zaman Khan has delivered a maiden over. He’s like Malinga (or Pathirana) with a release that looks even wilder. He has a low-arm action and an in-dipper into the right-handers which makes him effective during middle overs. His pace is more at Malinga’s level, a few kmph faster than Pathirana.
Urooj Mumtaz tells us more as Sri Lanka are 11/0 in two overs

DLS has decided: 252 target

You read that right…. Pakistan scored 252, but Sri Lanka’s target is also 252! That’s just how Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) rolls.
On Twitter, I was reading that fans were thinking SL will have to chase a few more runs because Pakistan started their innings at 45 overs but eventually batted only 42.
But the five wickets Pakistan had already lost during the mid-game rain-delay (28th over) has had a say in Pakistan not getting a target boost. Some runs would’ve been added had Pakistan been four-down or three-down (for eg). The segment below explains it better:
Do wickets lost after the interruption impact the chasing team’s target?
No, they don’t. According to DLS, a team exhausts its entire resources either when it is bowled out, or when it plays the full quota of overs. So, a score of 300 all out in 48 overs is the same as a score of 300 for 6 in 50 overs (in a 50-over game). What matters, though, is the number of wickets lost at the time of the interruption: the fewer the wickets lost, the greater is the opportunity cost of the overs lost for the batting team. A team which is only three down after 40 overs is likely to score more than a team which is eight down, and that is reflected in the targets that DLS sets.

Pakistan set stiff target

A boundary off the last ball from Rizwan means Pakistan finish on 252/7. They finished with a run-rate of exactly six, and added a 102 runs in the last ten. We’ll know the DLS-adjusted target shortly
Mohammad Rizwan jogs back, high on adrenaline, after finishing unbeaten on 86 in 73 balls. After Babar fell on 29, it was paramount for him to perform for Pakistan’s sake, and that’s what he did. A memorable partnership that helped rescue Pakistan towards a potentially match-winning position.
As for Sri Lanka, Theekshana (who eventually had to be helped out of the field due to some sort of leg injury) was the pick of the bowlers going at 4.66 overs. Wellalage put in another solid 1-40 performance in nine overs. Pathirana (8.1 rpo) and Madushan (8.3), though, were mighty expensive.
Kumble, Maharoof, Mumtaz on Match Day LIVE

108 in 78

That’s the final tally of this Rizwan-Iftikhar partnership. Between the two, the pair have hit nine fours and two sixes but have run so much as well.
They approached this partnership as one they MUST dominate for Pakistan to put on a good score – and have changed the game’s complexion. From 130/5 in in 27.4 overs, this partnership has taken Pakistan to 238 for 6 in 40.3 overs.
Pathirana with his third-wicket. He’s been getting the breakthroughs but finishes the evening mighty expensive. 3-65 in eight overs, at 8+ rpo.

Remember Asia Cup final 2022?

Last year, the Asia Cup final was exactly this fixture. Sri Lanka v Pakistan in a do-or-die match. That evening, Pakistan needed 171 to win.
Fakhar fell early, Babar fell early, and Rizwan came together with Iftikhar in the 4th over. However, over the next 9.5 overs they scored a laboured 71-run partnership, and when Pakistan eventually lost the game, critics said it was that Rizwan-Iftikhar partnership that sucked the life out of the chase. Many called it a “match losing partnership” as Pakistan lost the chance to lift the trophy.
Fast forward to today, and here they are again. Is this their redemption song? The partnership is already 91 in 69 balls, and with three overs to go…. there’s plenty of action left.
Pakistan 221/5 in 39 overs with Rizwan on 73* (65) and Iftikhar on 35* (34)

Amir’s watching a Rizwan special

And 200 comes up for Pakistan in the 38th over with Rizwan crunching a yorker-length ball from Pathirana for four.
Here’s a look at his wagon wheel in the 38th over, when his score was 66 in 61.

Rizwan's wagon wheel after scoring 66* in 61•ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Pakistan with the momentum

Iftikhar’s slog six off Wellalage and Rizwan’s smart back-foot pulls has seen the partnership reach 54 in 45 balls. Rizwan himself has reached a half-century.
It also looks like Theekshana has left the field due to a leg issue. But before that, he had Iftikhar trapped LBW with a skiddy ball, but the umpire turned the appeal down and his captain did not review. Theekshana was indeed keen for a review and after the stadium saw the replay, Theekshana hit the floor in frustration while receiving treatment. Emotions coming out now as SL appear to lose their grip.
Pakistan 184/6 in 35 overs with the run-rate 5.3.

Urgency from Pakistan

After the rain break, Rizwan (now having crossed 40) and Iftikhar have been running hard to convert singles into doubles while also finding the boundary every over. The run-rate still hovers around 5, and Pakistan will be hoping to push it towards 6.
Madushan, the bowler bowling the 33rd, struggles in his fifth over and concedes two sixes, bowls a no-ball and also delivers a couple of wides. Eighteen conceded.
Only nine overs to go with both teams looking to finish their respective innings strong. Pakistan in 33 overs are 168/5

Iftikhar Ahmed gave Mohammad Rizwan good support•AFP/Getty Images

42-overs-a-side now

We’ve lost three more overs from each side. 45 overs has now shrunk to 42-overs-a-side. Play will start at 8.10pm local. The innings change break has been reduced to 20 mins.

Nawaz, players march back

Theekshana rattles the left-hand batter’s stumps, and he has to go back for 12. But Nawaz isn’t the only one leaving the field because it is drizzling, and all the players are going off at 7.30pm local
Looks like a passing drizzle, though, so the umpires are already trying to get the covers off. However, the covers need to be brought back again when the players started to prep for a restart. The rain that returned at 7.42pm local is heavier.
Pakistan 130/5 in 27.4 overs

Pathirana deadly with his variations

The short and fast ball proved too good for Shafique. And now the full and slow ball proves too much for Haris to handle. He meets Matheesha Pathirana on the front foot with hard hands and the lanky fast bowler recovers well on the followthrough to take a sharp reflex catch!
Pakistan rattled at 108 for 4 and Pakistan have asked Nawaz to go in at No. 6, not Iftikhar Ahmed.

Matheesha Pathirana appeals for a wicket•Associated Press

Shafique: Fifty and out

Abdullah Shafique has built his game around his textbook batting style, focusing on technicalities and relying on timing. That has earned him a maiden white-ball half-century in internationals, but soon after he is gone.
Shafique looks to pull Pathirana, and that brings his downfall, out for a well-made 52.
That’s another promising partnership broken, and Rizwan awaits at new batting partner. Pathirana returns strongly in his second spell and Pakistan are 100/3 in 22 overs

Abdullah Shafique was solid with his technique•AFP/Getty Images

Wellalage’s legend grows

It was Rohit and Kohli the other day. Today it is Babar Azam. Young left-arm spinner Wellalage has got the big wicket of the Pakistan captain, and it’s not a wicket that the batter has gifted to him – the 20 year old has earned it.
Very similar to how he got Shubman Gill dismissed, Wellalage gets a full ball from wide around the stumps to turn across Babar’s front-foot defense. Not only does Babar miss the connection… but he also overbalances.
In Gill’s case, he wasn’t stumped because the ball hit the wicket anyway. This time, Kusal Mendis whips the bails off, and Babar’s back foot is in the air. Gone for 29 and Pakistan are 73/2 in 16 overs.
From the other end, Theekshana spits some wrong’uns and sliders with the 12th man (crowd) joining in with every play and miss. Rizwan at No. 4 has a tough initiation in his first over.


Shafique and Babar are offering low-risk, high-quality shots and the runs are flowing rather comfortably for Pakistan. They’ve steadied the innings, and their partnership of 50+ is going at a run-rate of more than six.
Sri Lanka are not being able to put pressure either. Matheesha Pathirana had two expensive overs to start his spell today. And Shanaka goes back to Maheesh Theekshana to see if his variations can bring a breakthrough. Pakistan 72/1 in 15 overs.
Talk on our ball-by-ball comms page is that Pakistan are on course for 280-300 in 45 overs. I’d be a bit more boring and say they’re better off batting steadily without losing too many wickets. Because in case their innings gets cut short (due to rain) and we have revised second-innings targets, then the number of wickets Pakistan have in hand will dictate the eventual DLS target at change of innings.
For now, though, things are dry, and here’s hoping it stays that way.

Babar Azam and Abdullah Shafique put on a steady stand•Associated Press

Wellalage v Shafique

Dunith Wellalage loves a big occasion. His five-for against India included batters in the top six, and today, he has started off by very nearly getting Abdullah Shafique caught behind. Next over, it is only “umpire’s call” that saves Shafique from an LBW shout.
But Shafique is a good player of spin, and he responds to that close shout with a six over long on. This has all the makings of a spicy battle with Shafique now growing in confidence after making slow progress against the new ball. Babar was been very fluid and continues scoring in a good tempo.
After scoring only 13 in five overs, Pakistan have gone at 5.8 rpo for the next six overs. Pakistan 48/1 in 11

Ian Bishop has spoken

Yep. I hope I am not speaking to soon. But I like the look of Pramod Madushan. Can’t believe he is 29yrs old. He has the face of a 22yr old. Lovely outswinger though.


Pramod Madushan dismantled Fakhar Zaman's stumps early•AFP/Getty Images

P-E-R-F-E-C-T. The best of the best would be stunned by that Pramod Madushan yorker… and Fakhar Zaman’s night with the bat is over. When it’s almost 140k, dipping late, swinging into the toes and the batter is off-balance – the stumps have their fate decided.
Babar Azam, the world’s No. 1 ODI batter, now walks in. He’s scored 10 and 17 after that Nepal century. 
Pakistan 13/1 after five

Will Fakhar redeem himself?

Fakhar Zaman has been given an extra life. With Imam unavailable today due to a back spasm, Fakhar has one chance to regain the team management’s confidence, having lost it less than 24 hours ago.
Abdullah Shafique will open alongside him, with Haris carded at No. 5. Cloudy but clear skies for now.
Pramod Madushan, meanwhile, in for Rajitha, has delivered a tight, incisive opening over. It was very nearly a wicket maiden too; Shafique survived a close caught chance after receiving a short ball.

Pakistan do a U-turn

Pakistan announced five changes yesterday. But they’ve had to tear that sheet apart, because they’ve had to make two changes to that changed XI. Forced change according to Babar Azam, who won the toss and chose to bat.
Imam Ul Haq has picked up a back spasm today, and Fakhar Zaman – dropped yesterday – is his replacement. Saud Shakeel – who was supposed to replace Agha Salman in the team – has picked up an illness, and therefore Abdullah Shafique will come in.
Sri Lanka with two changes. Pramod Madushan replaces Kasun Rajitha while Kusal Perera is back (!), in place of Dimuth Karunaratne. Kusal Perera last played an ODI in 2021 and is the kind of batter who could be a gamechanger in rain-hit, short games.

First ball at 5.15pm local.

Toss at 5.00 pm, start at 5.15 pm. 45 overs per side. Powerplays: 9 overs, 27 overs, 9 overs.
Pitch report: Same pitch as Sri Lanka v Bangladesh game – where Sri Lanka’s score of 250 was enough. Dominic Cork says, “I’d like to bowl first, try and restrict, chase under lights.”

Dasun Shanaka and Dhananjaya de Silva take a look at the ground that was covered due to rain•AFP/Getty Images

Update: Match conditions

For a 20-overs-a-side game, play must start by 9.02pm local. So there’s plenty of time for a game to happen today.
We start losing overs from 4.30pm local.
As of now (4.40pm local), the drizzle has eased up and some covers are being removed.

The toss of Sri Lanka vs Pakistan match was delayed due to rain•AFP/Getty Images

SL, ODI cricket, and ICC rankings

I find it very interesting that Sri Lanka, considered by most experts as favourites today, and who only recently were snapped of a 13-match winning streak, are ranked No. 8 in the ICC ODI Rankings. Even today, the perception is that SL are favourites against Pakistan. It’s not just Pakistan’s “so called fragile” XI that makes them favourites, because SL themselves are hit by a long injury list.
So that made me wonder, how strong do you think are SL’s chances at the ODI World Cup, because if we just went by the rankings, they’re set for a very poor finish.

ODI rankings (as of September 13th)•ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Tackling rain – the Sri Lankan way

With rain settling in and the toss not expected very soon, it’s a good time to check out why Sri Lanka’s groundstaff are considered the best in world cricket. 

Kumble, Maharoof, Mumtaz in conversation

The 2.50pm toss has been delayed further with rain returning again.
Till then, catch Anil Kumble, Urooj Mumtaz and Farveez Maharoof LIVE on Match Day

We have our first delay

We have the first mood-killer of the afternoon. Toss delayed to 2.50pm local. With rain predicted later as well, today’s game could be a shortened fixture. For now, we have a full game with first ball at 3.15pm local
Remember, there are no “reserve days” in the Super 4s for non India v Pakistan games, and in a convoluted way, that has worked out extremely well for Sri Lanka, because a washout today sends them straight into the final.

Shaheen Shah Afridi, Babar Azam and Grant Bradburn check if the rain has stopped•AFP/Getty Images

This is not the same Pakistan

The Pakistan XI that turned up for the opening game of the Asia Cup is vastly different from their XI today. Concerns over injury and form have forced Pakistan to make FIVE changes.
Out-of-form Fakhar Zaman has been replaced by Mohammad Haris. Agha Salman’s cut to his face has kept him out, with Saud Shakeel replacing him. Mohammad Wasim and Zaman Khan will replace Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf, and Mohammad Nawaz is back in place of Faheem Ashraf. Pakistan suddenly find themselves a fast-bowling crisis with Zaman (and Shahnawaz Dahani) being flown in from Pakistan.
Sri Lanka, who look far more settled, have a real opportunity here to make use of Pakistan’s frailties in a few departments. They should play an unchanged team.
Weather update 2.15pm local: Cloudy with the ground fully covered. Scheduled toss at 2.30pm.
Kumble: ‘Naseem and Rauf’s absence would tilt advantage towards Sri Lanka’

Welcome: all or nothing

On the back of defeats at the hands of India, Pakistan vs Sri Lanka has turned out to be a knockout fixture. The winner meets India in the final, the loser says goodbye to the Asia Cup. What a cracker we have in store with a chance to see which players stand up on the big occasion and which players fizzle out when the stakes are high.
Worth a reminder, though, that if the game is washed out (always a possibility), Sri Lanka will qualify into the final on virtue of a better NRR. Pakistan’s NRR took a mighty hit in their 228-run defeat against India and there’s been a bit of drizzle in the air.