Pakistan’s hopes of clinching the Asia Cup 2023 title were crushed on Thursday as the Babar Azam-led side lost a must-win match against Sri Lanka. Opting to bat first, Pakistan posted 252/7 in 42 overs (due to rain) Mohammad Rizwan scoring an unbeaten 86. However, Kusal Mendis and Charith Asalanka‘s fiery batting performance, took Sri Lanka across the line on the last ball of the match, with two wickets in hands. After the heartbreaking elimination, former Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi criticised their poor team selection.
Afridi lashed out at Pakistan’s management for not experimenting with their line-up and not benching players Shadab Khan, who are unable to deliver their best performances.
“This is an age-old problem. India are playing in Asia Cup, I’ve seen changes in almost every game in their team. They’ve rested seniors, played juniors, it shows that they are preparing for the World Cup. These decisions are very important, you select a 15-member squad because the players are bench are as good as those in XI. You shouldn’t have a problem with resting the first-choice players,” Afridi said on Samaa TV.
“If Shadab is rested, Osama Mir is there. He has performed well for Pakistan in the past. If someone isn’t performing in quite some matches, you should rest him. I’m not saying that drop him from the 15-member squad, you can keep him in the team and still rest him. Let him have sessions with head coach and bowling coach. I don’t know what are our plans, really,” he added.
All-rounder Shadab Khan has failed to leave a mark in the ongoing Asia Cup. The right-arm spinner has only been able to scalp six wickets in five matches, out of which, four came against Nepal. In the match against Sri Lanka, he only took one wicket and ended up conceding 55 runs in 9 overs.
Talking about the match, Kusal Mendis’ 91 and an unbeaten 49 by Charith Asalanka helped Sri Lanka edged out Pakistan by two wickets in a last-ball thriller of the Asia Cup to set up a final clash with India.
Chasing a DLS revised target of 252 in the 42-overs-a-side contest in Colombo, Sri Lanka needed eight from the final over and achieved the target with Asalanka’s winning hit on the last ball at 1.07 am local time.
The Asia Cup 2023 final will be played between India and Sri Lanka at R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo on Sunday.
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