Asia Cup 2023: Pakistan opt to bat first against Sri Lanka in ‘virtual semi-final’


Pakistan captain Babar Azam with Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka in Colombo on September 14, 2023. — X/PCB
Pakistan captain Babar Azam with Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka in Colombo on September 14, 2023. — X/PCB

After a rain delay, Pakistan opted to bat first against Sri Lanka, which is seen as a virtual semi-final of the Asia Cup 2023. 

The toss for the match was delayed after rain started just minutes before the toss was due.

The crucial match is the fourth Pakistan clash in the tournament that is threatened by rains. Previously, all games the Green Shirts have played in the Island nation were affected by heavy showers.

Even though Pakistan had announced their playing XI a day earlier but Imam and Saud Shakeel were dropped last minute. Imam was dropped due to a back spasm and has been replaced by Fakhar Zaman, while Saud has a fever and has been replaced by Abdullah Shafique. 

Both sides are coming off dispiriting losses to India in their own way. Sri Lanka could have all but booked a ticket to the final had they chased down what appeared a very gettable target of 214 against India on Tuesday, but Dunith Wellalage’s heroics with bat and ball fell just short.

Pakistan’s defeat at their biggest rivals’ hands was more comprehensive; they lost by a record 228 runs over two horror days that also saw them lose two of their three premier fast bowlers.

Moreover, Naseem Shah has been ruled out of the tournament, and Haris Rauf is almost equally unlikely to feature again.

Today’s game is now a virtual semi-final for both sides, and one strong performance will give them the chance to make amends for it all in the final. If the match today is washed out, Sri Lanka will fix its place in the final since they have a higher run rate than the Green Shirts.

Playing XI

Pakistan: Mohammad Haris, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam (capt), Mohammad Rizwan (wkt), Abdullah Shafique, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan (vice-capt), Mohammad Nawaz, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Wasim, Zaman Khan

Sri Lanka: Kusal Perera, Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis (wkt), Sadeera Samarawickrama, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dasun Shanaka (capt), Dunith Wellalage, Maheesh Theekshana, Pramod Madushan, Matheesha Pathirana 

More to follow…


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