Sri Lanka cricketer exploits loophole in laws, does ultimate sacrifice to knock Pakistan out of Asia Cup; Ashwin reacts
In a game of fine margins, it is always the little acts that make a huge difference, but often do get overlooked as well.
The narrative will have Sadeera Samarawickrama and Kusal Mendis bossing the middle overs for Sri Lanka in the virtual semi-final of the Asia Cup match against Pakistan at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Thursday night, adding a crucial 100-run stand before Charith Asalanka emerged as the hero in the end to guide the defending champions to a thriller of a win and book their date with India in the summit clash. But in a game of fine margins, it is always the little acts that make a huge difference, but often do get overlooked as well.
Pakistan did have their chances here and there in the innings, threatening to knock out the champions and script a much-anticipated maiden Asia Cup final against India. After a shaky start, Shadab Khan's terrific fielding effort to inflict a run out dismissal gave Pakistan some hope as both the openers departed early. Followed by a period of sheer frustration by a century stand, Iftikhar Ahmed broke the partnership, and then dismissed Kusal Mendis and Dasun Shanaka. Shaheen Afridi then revived Pakistan with some superb bowling in the penultimate over of the rain-marred match which was reduced to 42 overs, claiming two wickets for just four runs.
Sri Lanka needed eight runs from the final over to win the match with Asalanka, on 42 off 43 on the wrong end, and three wickets in hand. Pakistan rested their hopes on Zaman Khan. Pramod Madushan, the new batter at the crease, who on strike for the first ball of the ball, sneaked a single via leg bye after the Pakistan pacer erred on the yorker which turned out to be a full toss on the thigh pad.
With Asalanka back on strike, Sri Lanka were in driver's seat. But a dot ball, followed by a single, gave Pakistan the momentum with Sri Lanka requiring six from three. With Pramod on strike and Zaman brewing in confidence, Pakistan looked destined to win. But all changed in a moment of underrated brilliance. Zaman bowled full, slow and outside off as Pramod went for the swing and missed. Asalanka meanwhile had taken off for a single already. Pramod, having seen his partner more than halfway through the track, could have or rather should have sprinted off as well to complete the single and not give away another wicket to Pakistan.
But Pramod was clever. Even as the legendary Wasim Akram, on commentary, blasted the Sri Lanka cricketer for his act and calling it "poor communication", Pramod's act will go down as the biggest sacrifice if Sri Lanka go on to defend the trophy on Sunday, let alone in the win against Pakistan. Pramod stayed at the crease and waited for Asalanka to fully cross over before he left for the other end of the crease.
Had he gone the usual way, Pakistan wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan could have easily gotten Asalanka run out and Sri Lanka would have been done and dusted. But instead, he sacrificed his own wicket to give Sri Lanka the chance by getting Aslanka back on strike. Rizwan later missed his throw, but Zaman collected it and ran out Pramod.
What does the rule say?
Law 30.2 of the MCC, pertaining to "which is a batter's ground" explains that: "If only one batter is within a ground, it is his/her ground and will remain so even if he/she is later joined there by the other batter. If both batters are in the same ground and one of them subsequently leaves it, the ground belongs to the batter who remains in it."
Veteran cricketers praise
"Great game awareness from Pramod Madushan yesterday night. Did not leave the crease until Asalanka made it. Very impressive. @ashwinravi99 probably one of the finest at making good use of the rules would be v impressed," tweeted former India cricketer Venkatesh Prasad as he hailed Pramod's act.
Asalanka later smashed a boundary and sneaked two runs in the next two balls to guide Sri Lanka to a 2-wicket win via DLS.
"Absolutely! Just He missed the ball, Asalanka was charging down the pitch ( high octane pressure ) and yet this guy stood his ground until the keeper missed his attempt and then started running. All I can say is that these sort of reactions come from practice and this happens mostly in Tennis ball cricket," Ashwin added.
Sri Lanka will now face India in the Asia Cup final on Sunday.
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