Pakistan endured a disappointing loss at the hands of Sri Lanka in the ‘virtual semi-final’ of Asia Cup 2023, as it missed out on a chance to secure a title clash against India in the tournament. In a rain-curtailed 42-over match in Colombo, Sri Lanka secured a win on the last ball of the match; with nerves of steel, Charith Asalanka (49*) secured his side spot in the Asia Cup 2023 final. Shaheen Afridi had almost threatened to snatch victory from Sri Lanka in the penultimate over, but ultimately, Asalanka’s composure prevailed as he guided Sri Lanka to a last-ball triumph, shattering Pakistan’s hopes.
Pakistan were already grappling with injuries to their star pace duo of Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf, and adding to their concerns was Shadab Khan‘s poor form. The 24-year-old kicked off the tournament impressively, securing a four-wicket haul in Pakistan’s opening game against Nepal. However, his performance took a downturn afterward, with only two wickets to his name in the Super 4 stage, obtained against Sri Lanka and India. Notably, during Pakistan’s Super 4 victory over Bangladesh, Shadab Khan struggled to make any breakthroughs, failing to dismiss a single batter.
In the match against Sri Lanka, Shadab scored only 3 and conceded 55 runs for a wicket in nine overs, drawing criticism for his indifferent outing yet again. Following Pakistan’s exit from the tournament, the side’s former captain Shahid Afridi spoke in detail about Pakistan’s team selection, and drew reference from the Indian team to explain how Babar Azam and the team management isn’t using their back-up players.
“This is an age-old problem. India are playing in Asia Cup, I’ve seen changes in almost every game in their team. They’ve rested seniors, played juniors, it shows that they are preparing for the World Cup. These decisions are very important, you select a 15-member squad because the players are bench are as good as those in XI. You shouldn’t have a problem with resting the first-choice players,” Afridi said on Samaa TV.
“If Shadab is rested, Osama Mir is there. He has performed well for Pakistan in the past. If someone isn’t performing in quite some matches, you should rest him. I’m not saying that drop him from the 15-member squad, you can keep him in the team and still rest him. Let him have sessions with head coach and bowling coach. I don’t know what are our plans, really,” stated Afridi further.
Pakistan return with World Cup
The side will now return to action in the ODI World Cup when it begins its campaign with a warm-up match against New Zealand on September 29. Pakistan’s run in the main tournament kickstarts on October 6 against Netherlands.