Sri Lanka sneak home in last-ball thriller to set up final clash against India
Sri Lanka celebrating their entry to final of Asia Cup 2022 © Asian Cricket Council
Sri Lanka came back from behind to win a last-ball thriller to make it to the final of the T20 Asia Cup 2022. At one stage Pakistan needed only 16 runs from 17 balls with seven wickets in hand. But Sri Lanka held the nerve longer to sneak home in the final delivery of the game at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium on Thursday (October 13). Sri Lanka will face India in the final at the same venue on Saturday.
Opting to bat first, it took Sri Lanka 18 balls to break free with Chamari Athapaththu finally getting out of the blocks with a six off Sadia Iqbal. Anushka Sanjeewani, sent up the order in a probable pinch-hitting role, tried to go after every ball and eventually connected one in the fourth over off Nida Dar to find her first boundary.
However, Athapaththu dragged one on to the stumps in the same over to give Pakistan their first breakthrough. Sanjeewani launched Aiman Anwar full toss over the ropes for the second six of the innings but Pakistan ended the power play on a high with the wicket of the batter.
From 39 for 2, Harshitha Madavi and Nilakshi de Silva took their time and were restricted to occasional singles. The latter struggled to find gaps and eventually was dismissed for a 27-ball 14 by a smart return catch from Nashra Sundhu. But Madavi made sure that the pair added 50 runs for the third wicket to resurrect the Sri Lankan innings.
Boundaries were still hard to come by in the final overs and Madavi eventually fell for a well-made 41-ball 35 which featured only one four. With Hasini Perera and Kaveesha Dilhari finding one boundary each in the last two overs, Sri Lanka finished their innings on 122 for six from the stipulated 20 overs. Only six times the Island nation batters breached the ropes with only four fours and two sixes coming in the innings.
For Pakistan, Sundhu was the most successful bowler with figures of 3 for 17 from her four overs, while Dar and Omaima Sohail bowled eight frugal overs between them giving only 34 runs.
Chasing 123 for a place in the final, Muneeba got Pakistan off to a rollicking start as she smashed first ball through point for a boundary. In the third over, she hit Sugandika Kumari for two fours and Sidra Amin joined her with another boundary.
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Just as it looked like Pakistan will run away with the power play, Ali was run out thanks to some brilliant fielding at cover from Dilhari. However, Bismah Maroof didn’t let the run rate dip and started with a boundary off the first ball she faced. Pakistan ended the power play on 46 for one.
Even as Maroof was looking good at the other end, Amin’s innings was going nowhere and eventually pressure told on her and she fell to a reverse sweep off Inoka Ranaweera.
Amidst runs drying up and Sohail losing her wicket, Maroof stayed calm and in the company of Dar took Pakistan closer to the target. The duo ran fast through the wickets to take singles at will.
Maroof dropped the ball with soft hands and got quickly to the other end while Dar employed the sweep liberally. One sweep from Dar got them a boundary as well.
From 65 for 3, the pair added another 24 runs to reduce the target to 34 from the last five overs.
In the 16th over, Maroof took on Dilhari and hit her for a couple of boundaries to get Pakistan ahead of the required run rate. She first swept the off spinner for a four before stepping down to hit one over mid-on for another one.
With Pakistan needing 16 from the last 17 balls it looked like they would scamper home easily; however, Sri Lanka had other ideas. Kumari struck to castle Maroof for a well-made 42 and Ayesha Naseem fell to a heave across the stumps off Ranaweera.
It eventually came down to nine off the last over and Sri Lanka had only three fielders on the boundary due to slow over rate. Achini Kulasuriya bowled a tight over with a few yorkers and low full tosses and Sri Lanka held their nerve. Even when Dilhari dropped a catch in the final ball extra-cover, she managed to throw the ball to the strikers’ end to find Dar short of the crease to help Sri Lanka sneak home with a solitary run win.
Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 122 for 6 in 20 overs (Harshitha Madavi 35, Anushka Sanjeewani 26; Nashra Sundhu 3/17) beat Pakistan 121/6 in 20 overs (Bismah Maroof 42, Nida Dar 26; Inoka Ranaweera 2/17) by one run