Babar Azam rued Pakistan’s Asia Cup exit© AFP
Pakistan skipper Babar Azam said that Sri Lanka played better cricket than them as they missed out on the Asia Cup final spot by the barest of margins. Pakistan’s star pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi set a nail-biting final over after claiming two wickets in the penultimate over and giving away just four runs. Zaman Khan failed to save 9 runs in the final over as Charith Asalanka scored the winning runs to clinch the victory.
After the game, Babar reflected on his decision to drop the in-form bowler Iftikhar Ahmed from the attack and the areas they fell short which eventually led to their downfall.
“In the end, we decided to bowl our best bowlers. That’s why I decided to bowl Shaheen and then we believed in Zaman Khan for the final over. SL played really well, they played better cricket than us, that’s why they won. We weren’t up to the mark with our bowling and fielding, that’s why we lost. In the middle overs, we are not bowling well. That partnership (between Mendis and Samarawickrama) cost us. We are starting well, we are finishing well, but we are not taking wickets in the middle,” Babar said after the match.
Coming to the match, defending champions left it late to clinch the victory against a side who were certainly missing the presence of their star pacers Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf in the death overs.
Shaheen Shah Afridi almost took the victory away from Sri Lanka’s hands in the second last over but in the end, Asalanka dug deep to censure Sri Lanka’s triumph with a last-ball victory and shatter Pakistan’s hopes.
It all came down to the final two overs, as Afridi set up a nail-biting final over as he claimed two wickets in two balls in the second last over.
Debutant Zaman Khan had 9 runs to save the game and take Pakistan to the finals but Charith Asalanka (49)* held onto his nerves and sent Sri Lanka to the final to defend their title with a bit of luck.
A big outside edge helped him get the boundary Sri Lanka needed the most on the second-last ball and then a gentle flick into the gap was enough to ensure Sri Lanka’s victory.
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