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Rain, runs and records: Five key Asia Cup moments

By AFP

September 17, 2023 07:16 PM


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India hammered Sri Lanka by 10 wickets in the Asia Cup final on Sunday after nearly three weeks of action and rain in the regional tournament.

The 50-over competition hosted by Pakistan and Sri Lanka was a tune-up for the upcoming ODI World Cup in India for five of the six participating teams.

AFP Sport looks at five key moments.

 

- Shaheen fires -

 

Pakistan's Shaheen Shah Afridi made an early statement when he rattled India with his left-arm pace in a group match washed out due to rain.

Shaheen bowled skipper Rohit Sharma and then Virat Kohli, and fellow quicks Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah combined to dismiss India for 266 in the only innings possible in Pallekele.

In the next meeting between the arch-rivals, the Pakistan quicks went for runs as India posted 356-2 in their 228-run win.

Naseem and Rauf suffered injuries in the game in a blow to Pakistan ahead of the World Cup, but in an interview with AFP, Shaheen said his "best is yet to come".

 

- Siraj blitz -

 

India fast bowler Mohammed Siraj saved the best for the last when he ripped through the Sri Lankan batting with six wickets including four in one over.

Siraj returned his ODI best figures of 6-21 in a devastating spell of fast bowling in overcast conditions, to help skittle out Sri Lanka for 50 in 15.2 overs.

The performance capped off a dominant few weeks for India after they crushed Pakistan by 228 runs in their Super Four match with centuries from Virat Kohli and KL Rahul.

Opener Shubman Gill also made his presence felt with a sparkling 121 -- albeit in a lost cause -- in an inconsequential match against Bangladesh.

 

- Wellalage shines -

 

Dunith Wellalage was a part of Sri Lanka's young players who put up a strong show for the underdogs, after they snuck into the Super Fours with a dramatic win over Afghanistan.

The left-arm spinner claimed his maiden five-wicket haul in a Super Four clash versus India, and got the key wickets of Rohit and Kohli to bowl the opposition out for 213.

Sri Lanka fell short in their chase despite Wellalage's unbeaten 42, but the performance from the 20-year-old boosted the team's confidence.

Fast bowler Matheesha Pathirana and batsman Charith Asalanka then helped the island nation edge out Pakistan in a last-ball thriller to make the final.

 

- Rain warriors -

 

An army of 100 ground staff wearing orange jerseys ran with the covers every time rain halted play and were hailed as "unsung heroes" by the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) and Sri Lanka Cricket.

Rain played havoc in the tournament which had nine of the 13 matches played in Sri Lanka, after India refused to tour Pakistan due to political tensions.

Showers in Pallekele meant the blockbuster India-Pakistan match was abandoned, and rain followed the teams to Colombo in a Super Four game which was awarded a reserve day -- much to the annoyance of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Rohit and Kohli thanked the groundsmen for their efforts and the ACC and SLC promised a $50,000 bonus shared between the staff.

 

- Nepal debut -

 

Nepal had a baptism by fire on their Asia Cup debut when Pakistan bundled out the cricketing minnows for 104 in the opener in Multan.

But the Rohit Paudel-led side made an impression against big guns India, when they posted 230 all out in 48.2 overs in a rain-hit group game they eventually lost by 10 wickets.

Paudel said he and his players spoke to Rohit and Kohli after the game, a meeting that proved "useful" to them.

Nepal, who are still finding their feet in international cricket and got ODI status in 2018, made waves after they reached the ODI World Cup qualifiers earlier this year.


AFP


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