The Pakistan cricket team, including captain Babar Azam and bowler Zaman Khan, was devastated by the last-ball defeat to Sri Lanka, which eliminated them from the Asia Cup. With Sri Lanka needing 12 runs off 2 overs with five wickets in hand, Pakistan faced a grim situation.
The Asia Cup Super 4 match at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo had been one-sided ever since Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samaramawickrama formed a crucial 252-run partnership in their chase.
The tide began to turn when Iftikhar Ahmed, with his part-time off-spin, started making breakthroughs in the Sri Lanka middle-order. First, he dismissed Samarawickrama, just two runs short of his half-century, and then claimed Mendis’ wicket when he was on 91.
Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka also fell to Iftikhar’s bowling an over later. Despite these setbacks, Sri Lanka kept the required run rate within reach, thanks to Charith Asalanka and Dhananjaya de Silva, ensuring they needed less than six runs an over.
Shaheen Afridi took the stage to bowl the penultimate over and, as expected from a world-class bowler, completely changed the course of the match. The left-arm pacer conceded only three runs in his first three deliveries and then concluded the over with two crucial wickets on the fourth and fifth balls, allowing just a single on the last delivery.
At this point, Sri Lanka needed 8 runs from the remaining 6 balls with three wickets in hand. While Charith Asalanka’s presence still gave them an advantage, Afridi’s performance had given Pakistan a significant opportunity. Babar Azam entrusted the ball to Zaman Khan, a debutant who wasn’t even part of Pakistan’s Asia Cup squad until a couple of nights ago. Now, Khan had the challenging task of defending 7 runs in the last over, with a place in the tournament final at stake.
Zaman, known for his slingy action, delivered four excellent balls, giving away just two runs. Now, it was Sri Lanka feeling the pressure. They required 6 runs to win off the last two deliveries. Zaman Khan charged in, attempting to bowl a wide yorker to Charith Asalanka. The left-handed batsman attempted a big shot, but the ball took an outside edge and sped away to the boundary.
Babar Azam’s reaction after Pakistan’s loss to Sri Lanka in a thrilling last-ball match
Go big, or go home 🇱🇰
Sri Lanka takes that spot in the finals as they end Pakistan’s journey in this tournament 💪🏼
— Disney+ Hotstar (@DisneyPlusHS) September 14, 2023
Zaman was disheartened, burying his head between his arms. He understood that this moment had the potential to change the game. Just when he needed a stroke of luck desperately, it had eluded him. The tension on the face of Pakistan’s captain, Babar Azam, was unmistakable.
He approached his young pacer for an extended conversation. The outcome was a slower ball pitched on the off-stump, which Asalanka elegantly flicked toward the unguarded fine-leg area. The Sri Lankan batsmen easily returned for the second run, and the celebrations commenced. Sri Lanka had secured their place in the Asia Cup final.
The crowd erupted, leaving Babar in disbelief. He gestured as if to question the fielder’s position or the bowler’s delivery choice. Zaman, on the other hand, was crushed, kneeling in silence with visible anguish in his eyes. There was no need to explain their disbelief.
Shortly after, the Pakistan team huddled around Zaman to offer support. Shaheen gave him a reassuring pat on the back, and Zaman wiped his face – whether it was sweat or tears, it wouldn’t be surprising. Pakistan’s elimination from the Asia Cup was a bitter disappointment.