It is safe to say that the Asia Cup 2023 did not at all go to Pakistan’s plans. They entered the tournament as the No.1-ranked ODI side and dare we say, also as the most balanced side. But on Thursday they bowed out of the tournament with more questions than any team top team. Babar Azam-led side started the tournament with big wins against Nepal and Bangladesh but were handed their heaviest defeat against India in Super 4 stage. In a must-win match against Sri Lanka, they lost by two wickets (via DLS method) in a match that went down to the last ball.
What’s worse? Pakistan lost two of their premier fast bowlers Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf. Both of them suffered injuries during the Super 4 match against India and if reports are to be believed they are in danger of missing the start of ICC World Cup 2023 beginning on October 5.
The problems don’t end there for Pakistan. Their No. 1 ranking was anyway short-lived as Australia had dethroned them by winning the first two ODIs against South Africa but now Pakistan have lost their second spot too. The recent change in the ICC ODI rankings happened after Pakistan were beaten by Sri Lanka. They slipped to the third spot as India overtook them.
India can become No.1 ODI team if they win Asia Cup
India currently have 116 points while Pakistan slipped to third with 115 rating points. Australia are sitting on the top with 118 rating points. There could be more changes to the ranking by this weekend.
India face Bangladesh on Friday in their last Asia Cup Super 4 match. If they manage to win that and then go on to beat Sri Lanka in the final on Sunday to lift the Asia Cup, the Rohit Sharma-led side can become the top-ranked side provided Australia lose at least one of their two remaining matches in the five-match ODI series against Australia. Then India and Australia will fight for the top spot in a three-match ODI series in India ahead of the World Cup.
What happened in Pakistan vs Sri Lanka match?
Coming back to the Pakistan vs Sri Lanka match, Kusal Mendis produced an outstanding 91 and Charith Asalanka a gutsy unbeaten 49 as defending champions Sri Lanka overcame Pakistan by two wickets in a dramatic Super Four clash. Fifties by Abdullah Shafique (52) and Mohammad Rizwan (86 not out) had led Pakistan to a competitive 252 for 7 off 42 overs after electing to bat on another rain-affected day.
But Sri Lanka replied in kind through Mendis and Asalanka as they inched past the target off the last ball of the match, also spoiling the possibility of an Indo-Pak summit clash.
Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama (48 off 51 balls) added 100 runs for the third wicket, as Lanka gradually bridged the gap. Samarawickrama, even though he was pinged on the helmet once by Shaheen Afridi, kept his end going with some sensible cricket.
But a momentary rush ended his stay. Iftikhar caught him in no-man’s land with a slightly fuller-length ball, and Rizwan made an easy stumping.
Mendis milked a further 33 runs along with Asalanka, but Iftikhar returned to dismiss him.
Mendis’ effort to turn the ball off his pads resulted in a leading edge, which was caught superbly by a diving Mohamamd Harris.
Thereafter Sri Lanka fell into panic mode, losing four wickets in as many overs and it seemed that they were on the verge of botching up the chase. Asalanka, however, kept his calm to knock off six runs off the last two balls.