Charith Asalanka played one of the coolest shots in ODI cricket history to score the final two runs required off the last as Sri Lanka beat Pakistan by 2 wickets in the Super 4 to reach the Asia Cup 2023 final in Colombo.
Needing 2 runs off the last ball, Asalanka walked across the stumps and flicked a full delivery from Pakistani debutant Zaman Khan to take two runs and bring an end to a thrilling contest at the R Premadasa stadium in the Sri Lankan capital on Thursday.
Sri Lanka win rain-marred contest
Chasing a rain-revised target of 252 for victory, Sri Lanka rode on the superb knocks from Kusal Mendis (91) and Asalanka, who fell short of his 10 ODI fifty by 1 run, to cross the finish line and set up the summit clash against India, which will be played at the same venue on September 17.
Sunday's match will be Sri Lanka's 12th appearance in the Asia Cup final while India will be playing its 10th summit clash in the tournament's history.
The Men in Blue have won the title a record 7 times with Sri Lanka a close second with 6 trophies.
"We had the game under control, but the losing of wickets took it till the last over. We gave them a chance to come back in the game, but we knew Charith could get us home.
"We had a discussion before batting and we discussed the mistakes we made in the India game. We gave away wickets in the first 10 overs, and Kusal and Sadeera played brilliant knocks," Lankan skipper Dasun Shanaka said after the match.
Mendis-Samarawickrama guide the chase
The victory was mainly possible because of Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama, who set up the game with their 100-run partnership for the fourth wicket.
Mendis fell short of his third ODI hundred by 9 runs but top-scored with 91 off 87 balls with 8 fours and a six while Samarawickrama failed to bring up his sixth fifty after getting out for 48.
Asalanka adds the finishing touches
But it was the 26-year-old Asalanka, who took charge of the chase after the set batters got out and kept his cool to take his team over the finish line off the final ball.
The hosts were actually cruising in the chase when Mendis and Samarawickrama were at the crease but Iftikhar Ahmed turned the tide with his 3 wickets in quick succession in the death overs.
Lanka however, managed to hold their nerves thanks to Asalanka and eventually eked out a famous win in front of the capacity crowd at the RPS.
Earlier, Mohammad Rizwan (86*) and Iftikhar Ahmed (47) put up a 108-run stand to steer Pakistan to a commanding 252 for 7 after rain reduced the match to 42-overs a side contest.
Pakistan 252 for 7 in 42 overs (Mohammad Rizwan (86 not out), Abdullah Shafique 52; Matheesha Pathirana 3/64)
Sri Lanka 252 for 8 in 42 overs (Kusal Mendis 91 Charith Asalanka 49 not out; Iftikhar Ahmed 3/50).