Pakistan’s hopes of qualifying for the Asia Cup 2023 final were crushed on Thursday (September 14) as they suffered a heartbreaking two-wicket defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka in the Super-4 clash at R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo.
In a rain-marred affair, the Men in Green posted 252/7 in their allotted 42 overs on the back of Mohammad Rizwan’s stunning 86* from 73 balls and valiant knocks from Abdullah Shafique (52) and Iftikhar Ahmed (47).
In reply, Kusal Mendis led a determined batting effort for Sri Lanka with a brilliant knock of 91 in 87 balls. He was well supported by Charith Asalanka (49 not out) and Sadeera Samarawickrama (48) as the hosts successfully chased down the target on the final delivery.
This result means that Dasun Shanaka’s men will now face Rohit Sharma’s India in the final to be played on Sunday (September 17) at the same venue.
In the aftermath of Pakistan's defeat and exit from the Asia Cup, former pacer Shoaib Akhtar said Babar Azam and company deserved to qualify for the final while admitting that Sri Lanka were better on the day.
Akhtar also rued the fact that India-Pakistan final won’t happen in this edition of Asia Cup as well.
"Pakistan deserved to win and go to the Asia Cup final but they are out of the tournament. They can be criticised a lot as they were touted as the 'favourites' but are out of the tournament now. Unfortunately, there can't be a Pakistan vs India match in the final, it has never happened (kabhi Pakistan, India ka match (final) ho nahi sakta, kabhi hua nahi). This was the chance but Sri Lanka deserved to be the finalists. They were the far better team," Shoaib Akhtar said in a video posted on his YouTube channel.
The Rawalpindi Express also termed the loss 'embarrassing' and asked Babar's men to pull up their socks ahead of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, slated to get underway on October 5.
"Having said that, this is a very embarrassing loss. The fact that Pakistan are out of the tournament, doesn't look nice. Pakistan have a lot to think about. The captaincy needs to sharpen up a bit. I am very disappointed. Can't say more," he remarked.