Sri Lanka’s Charith Asalanka held his nerve and lifted his team into the Asia Cup final on Sunday – where they will face India – with a stunning two-goal win over injury-hit Pakistan.

The 26-year-old needed a six off Colombo’s last two balls, going beyond the third man boundary against new fast bowler Zaman Khan before turning the fielder to square leg for two runs to take Sri Lanka to 252-8 in the pouring rain. Super 4 game reduced by 42 sides.

Asalanka hit an unbeaten 49 off 47 balls as Sri Lanka survived the last two matches against Zaman and the experienced Shaheen Shah Afridi (2-52).

“We gave them a chance to come back, but Sharith kept his nerve,” Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka said. “Sharieth was fantastic, a great player. It’s a special feeling to play in back-to-back finals.”

Afridi bowled the penultimate ball perfectly as the left-arm fast bowler picked up the wickets of Dhananjaya de Silva and Dunith Wellalage off successive deliveries and only conceded four runs.

Zaman conceded only two of the first four balls as Pramod Madhushan crossed before Asalanka brought their raucous crowd of around 35,000 at the R Premadasa Stadium to their feet from the last ball.

Pakistan captain Babar Azam said: “We did not reach the required level in bowling and fielding, and that is why we lost the match.” “We started well, finished well, but the middle shots weren’t great.”

Sri Lanka benefited from Pakistan’s deleted bowling attack after key fast bowlers Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf were ruled out due to injuries, and all-rounder Faheem Ashraf was also ruled out due to indifference.

Kusal Mendis made a brilliant 91 off 87 balls and shared a century stand with Sadira Samarawickrama, who made 48. Zaman and Mohammed Wasim were unable to stem the flow of runs, and leg-spinner Shadab Khan also made the mistake of bowling too many full deliveries. With numbers less than 1-55.

Off-spinner Iftikhar Ahmed scored 3-50 and brought Pakistan back into the game when Samarawickrama stumbled and Mendis was brilliantly cut off by a diving Mohammed Haris at short cover as the ball rose off the front edge.

Earlier, Mohammad Rizwan made 86 off 73 balls and Ahmed made 47 to push Pakistan to 252-7 after both batsmen got an early reprieve in their overs.

Rain, which disrupted the Super 4 matches in Colombo, delayed the draw again before the match was reduced to 45 players.

Pakistan had to rule out Imam-ul-Haq and Saud Shakeel due to illness as they won the toss and elected to bat. Abdullah Shafiq made 52 in his first match of the tournament after Fakhar Zaman’s inconsistent run in the Asia Cup continued and was cleanly bowled by Madhushan for 4.

Babar (29) and Shafiq revived the innings with a 64-run stand before Willalage edged Babar to a brilliant delivery that went away sharply. Haris and Mohammad Nawaz fell cheaply and Pakistan were down to 130-5 in the 28th over before the rain arrived.

But Rizwan and Ahmed counter-attacked once play resumed after nearly half an hour’s delay as they batted hard against both fast bowlers Mathisha Pathirana (3-65) and Madhushan (2-58).

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