Watch: Babar flings his arms in anger, Zaman nearly cries, Pakistan crestfallen as Sri Lanka push them out of Asia Cup
The Pakistan cricketers including captain Babar Azam and bowler Zaman Khan were distraight after the last-ball defeat to Sri Lanka knocked them out of Asia Cup.
With Sri Lanka needing 12 runs off 2 overs with five wickets in hand, Pakistan were down and almost out. In fact, the Asia Cup Super 4 match at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo had been one-way traffic ever since Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samaramawickrama joined hands in the 252-run DLS revised chase. Things started to change slowly when Iftikhar Ahmed started to make inroads in the Sri Lanka middle-order with his part-time off-spin. He first broke the partnership by getting Samarawickrama out stumped two short of his half-century and then gave Sri Lanka a body blow by taking the wicket of Mendis when he was 91. Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka was Iftikhar's next victim an over later. Despite the three quick wickets the required rate never got out of Sri Lanka's reach. Charith Asalanka and Dhananjaya de Silva made sure it was under six runs an over.
But little did they know, there was another major twist in the tale, or shall we say the beginning of the twists in the last two overs. Shaheen Afridi entered the stage to bowl the penultimate over of the match and like any world-class would do in this situation, turned the match on its head. The left-arm pacer gave only three runs in his first three deliveries and then finished the over with a double strike of the fourth and fifth balls and only a single in the last ball of the over.
Sri Lanka now needed 8 runs off 6 balls with three wickets in hand. Asalanka's presence meant they still had the upper hand but Afridi had now given Pakistan a major sniff. Babar Azam threw the ball to Zaman Khan. The debutant, who was not even in Pakistan's Asia Cup squad till a couple of nights ago, now had the job of defending 7 in the last over with a spot in the tournament final on the line.
Zaman, who has a slingy action, four excellent deliveries conceding only two runs. Now, it was Sri Lanka under the pump. They needed 6 to win off the final two deliveries. Zaman ran in and tried to bowl a wide yorker to Asalanka. The left-hander went for a big heave, got an outside edge and the ball raced away to the boundary. Zaman was on the mat, hiding his head between his arms. He knew it was a game-changing moment. Just when he desperately needed lady luck, it had evaded him.
The tension on Pakistan captain Babar's face was unmissable. He walked up to his young pacer and had a long chat. The result was a slower ball on the off stump, which was flicked quite nicely by Asalanka towards the vacant fine-leg area. The Sri Lankan batters had no difficulty in coming back for the second run and the celebrations began. They were in the Asia Cup final.
Watch Video: Zaman Khan nearly breaks down, Babar flings his arms after Asalanka hits winning runs for Sri Lanka to enter Asia Cup final
The capacity crowd went berserk. Babar could not believe it. He flung his arms as if to suggest the fielder should have been finer or the bowler should have bowled it wide, we would never know. Zaman was crestfallen. He was on his knees, motionless. The pain in his eyes was evident. The disbelief needed no explanation.
Moments later, the Pakistan players gathered around Zaman to cheer him up. Shaheen was seen patting the right-arm pacer on his back before the latter wiped sweat off his face, or were there tears? It should not surprise anyone if there were. Pakistan were knocked out of the Asia Cup.
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