by: Atika Mehboob TN Sports Pakistan:
Pakistan 345 for 4 (Rizwan 131*, Shafique 113, Madushanka 2-60) beat Sri Lanka 344 for 9 (Mendis 122, Samarawickrama 108, Hasan Ali 4-71) by six wickets
Sri Lanka received a stern reality check in modern ODI cricket as Pakistan accomplished the highest-ever World Cup chase, reaching a target of 345 with six wickets in hand. Pakistan’s triumphant pursuit was powered by centuries from Abdullah Shafique and Mohammad Rizwan, overshadowing the twin tons of Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama.
Rizwan’s unbeaten 131 off 121 balls was remarkable, especially considering he grappled with cramps for the latter half of his innings. His partnership with debutant Shafique, who scored an impressive 113 off 103 balls, was the foundation of Pakistan’s chase. Their 176-run third-wicket partnership was pivotal, and Rizwan’s subsequent stands with Saud Shakeel and Iftikhar Ahmed sealed the win. This victory boosts Pakistan’s morale ahead of their significant upcoming match against India.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, faces concerns after their second consecutive loss. Their bowlers struggled, conceding over 750 runs in two games. Despite the return of Maheesh Theekshana, Sri Lanka’s bowling lacked potency, with key players like Theekshana, Dunith Wellalage, and Dilshan Madushanka proving expensive. Matheesha Pathirana, especially, had a tough game, giving away 90 runs in nine overs.
Pakistan smartly capitalized on Sri Lanka’s fifth bowler dilemma. While Dasun Shanaka was economical, Dhananjaya de Silva and Charith Asalanka were expensive in their brief spells.
In the chase, Pakistan started cautiously but gained momentum due to the power-packed middle order. Shafique and Rizwan’s massive stand for the third wicket set the tone. Their acceleration in the middle overs ensured a manageable target for the last ten. Shafique’s composed batting kept the Sri Lankan bowlers at bay until a stunning catch by substitute Dushan Hemantha ended his innings. Still, Rizwan’s resilience saw Pakistan through.
Sri Lanka, despite their spirited batting, fell short. Captain Shanaka believed they were about 30 runs short. Kusal Mendis’s explosive batting was a highlight, making the most of Pakistan’s pace attack that lacked sharpness. His partnerships with Pathum Nissanka and Samarawickrama set Sri Lanka on course for a massive total. But the innings lost steam, especially in the final 10 overs, which yielded only 61 runs.
Considering the batting prowess displayed by Samarawickrama and Mendis, Sri Lanka’s 344 was commendable. However, the slim margins in competitive cricket highlighted the importance of finishing strong. Sri Lanka must address their concerns promptly to retain their faint hopes of a semi-final spot.