Asia Cup 2023: Pakistan scores 252 runs in a do-or-die match

Sri Lanka restricted Pakistan to 252 runs in the virtual semi-final. The winner of this crucial match will advance to the finals against India.

In the Asia Cup 2023 Super Four, Sri Lanka and Pakistan squared off in a game that could have ended either way. With the winner facing India in the Asia Cup final, the game acted as a virtual semifinal. Pakistan won the toss and opted to bat first and scored 252 runs in the first innings.

Injuries strike Pakistan camp

A day before their match against Sri Lanka, Pakistan named their lineup. A decision that cost them before the game. Imam-ul-Haq, who was originally included in the starting XI, was dropped from the squad after experiencing a back spasm in practice. Due to Imam’s injury, Fakhar Zaman, who had been benched, and Abdullah Shafique, who took the place of Saud Shakeel from the squad that had been revealed the day before, will now start the game. In the Pakistani camp, there have been other injuries as well. Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf, and Agha Salman were all hurt when playing against India, and Agha Salman was hurt while attempting a sweep shot against Ravindra Jadeja without a helmet. 

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The difficulties for Fakhar Zaman persisted at the top of the order. He was dropped and then reinstated, but he was unable to take advantage of the excellent opportunity. Zaman managed just four runs in 11 balls before being caught by Pramod Madushan. Shafique put up a fight as Sri Lanka amassed 36 runs in the nine powerplay overs.

Shafique and skipper Babar Azam steadies Pakistan

When Pakistan lost their first wicket, things became a little tricky. They had only scored nine runs and used roughly 50% of the powerplay in 4.2 overs. Shafique batted conservatively while Babar Azam approached the plate with a tad of aggressiveness. Maheesh Theekshana in particular, a bowler for Sri Lanka, bowled economically. A 64-run partnership was shared by the two Pakistanis for the second wicket. Dunith Wellalage later stumped the top ODI hitter to dismiss Babar. 

Shafique reached his first half-century in the format during a 27-run partnership with Mohammad Rizwan. When Shafique pulled a short delivery from Matheesha Pathirana straight to Madushan positioned at deep square leg, he was out shortly after hitting 50. Agha Salman’s replacement, Mohammad Haris, made a rather poor comeback. The batter only made three runs in nine balls.

Pakistan just scored 130 runs before losing half of their team. Although Mohammad Nawaz was called in to bat with good intentions, his time at the crease was brief. Nawaz hit two fours and scored 12 runs in just 12 balls. The game was once stopped by the rain immediately following Nawaz’s dismissal. Already, the game had been changed to a 45-over-per-side contest. The game was restarted after a brief pause. The number of overs allowed per side was 42.

Iftikhar Ahmed and Rizwan provide the finishing touch

After the game restarted, Rizwan and Iftikhar Ahmed played abrasively. Rizwan, who plays as the opener in T20 matches, adopted a similar strategy. A century partnership made sure Pakistan reached a winning total rather than just a respectable one. Iftikhar scored 47 runs in 40 balls before being bowled by Pathirana, while Rizwan scored 54 runs in just 38 balls during the partnership. This was a huge lift for Pakistan’s middle order, which had previously struggled. For Pakistan, this was the first century-plus partnership for the sixth wicket since January 2018.