Asia Cup

Asia Cup 2023: Unforgettable win for Sri Lanka, Heartbreaking loss for Afghanistan

In an unforgettable match of Asia Cup 2023 held in Lahore, Sri Lanka emerged victorious against Afghanistan by a mere two runs, maintaining their remarkable streak of 12 consecutive ODI wins. While the final scorecard suggests a narrow Sri Lankan win, the game was a rollercoaster ride that kept fans on the edge of their seats.

Afghanistan’s incredible determination was evident from the outset. They understood that to improve their Net Run Rate (NRR) for qualification, any chase needed to conclude in approximately 37 overs. Adding intrigue to the situation, if they achieved this, Sri Lanka’s NRR would fall below both Bangladesh’s and Afghanistan’s, thus eliminating the defending champions.

Sri Lanka posted a total of 291 for 8, thanks to a blistering 92 off 84 balls by Kusal Mendis and a late partnership between Dunith Wellalage and Maheesh Theekshana. This set the stage for Afghanistan, who needed to reach their target within 37.1 overs.

For much of their innings, Sri Lanka appeared to have control of the game. However, Mohammad Nabi’s explosive 65 off 32 balls ignited hope within the Afghan camp. When Nabi stepped in, Afghanistan required 171 runs off 110 balls, but his fiery innings reduced the equation to 91 runs off 64 balls. During his innings, Nabi unleashed an array of shots, including pulls, swats, cuts, and slaps, sending Sri Lanka’s bowlers to all parts of the Gaddafi Stadium. His innings featured six fours and five sixes.

Nabi’s impact on the game inspired the rest of the Afghan batsmen, who had struggled with their strike rates against Bangladesh just two days earlier. They found the boundaries when needed to keep pace with the required run rate.

In the end, it was Rashid Khan who played a pivotal role. He struck three boundaries in the final four balls of the 37th over, leaving Mujeeb Ur Rahman needing to score three runs off one ball. Mujeeb attempted a big shot but was caught at long-on. However, Afghanistan could still have qualified if they had managed to reach 295 runs in 37.5 overs, essentially requiring a single six. Astonishingly, it seemed this crucial information was not communicated to the Afghan players. Consequently, Farooqi, batting at No. 11, played out two defensive strokes before being trapped leg before wicket while attempting a third block. Rashid Khan looked dejected at the other end as Sri Lanka secured an improbable victory to finish as the leaders of Group B.


Sri Lanka batting

Pathum Nissanka41405560102.50
Dimuth Karunaratne3235376091.42
Kusal Mendis †928412063109.52
Sadeera Samarawickrama3890037.50
Charith Asalanka3643662183.72
Dhananjaya de Silva1419181073.68
Dasun Shanaka (c)5861062.50
Dunith Wellalage33*39473184.61
Maheesh Theekshana28244421116.66
TOTAL291/850 Ov5.82 RR

Afghanistan batting

Rahmanullah Gurbaz †48111050.00
Ibrahim Zadran714271050.00
Gulbadin Naib22163040137.50
Rahmat Shah45406451112.50
Hashmatullah Shahidi (c)59661203189.39
Mohammad Nabi65324065203.12
Karim Janat22132312169.23
Najibullah Zadran23152412153.33
Rashid Khan (not out)27163441168.75
Mujeeb Ur Rahman038000.00
Fazalhaq Farooqi031000.00
TOTAL28937.4 Ov7.67 RR

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