Batting allrounder Charith Asalanka described his sensational 47-ball 49 not out as the second best knock of his career after taking Sri Lanka to the final of the Asia Cup with a two-wicket win in a last-ball thriller against Pakistan here on Thursday.
The 26-year-old Asalanka kept his composure despite a mini batting collapse in the back end as Sri Lanka chased down a target of 252 in the last delivery.
“I just thought how can I get two to hit a gap and run hard because it is a big field and just told Pathirana to run hard,” he said after the match.
“I thought either he will bowl a bouncer or a yorker and then he bowled a slo wer ball, so it was in my side. I am very excited.
“Mendis and Sadeera batted really well. I wanted to finish. That is my role. I can rank this innings second place in my book,” he added.
Kusal Mendis slammed a 87-ball 91 to set up the chase. He added 100 off 98 balls with Sadeera Samarawickrama (48).
“Happy with my performance, happy to get to the final,” said Mendis, who was adjudged the Player of the Match.
“Those two wickets fell down and we were nervous, but with Charith in the middle we had hope. He’s done this in one game against Afghanistan. I think we also bowled really well, so happy to be in the final.
“Wanindu, Kumara and Dusmantha are main bowlers, but we have these bowlers who are bowling well. This is a young unit.” Winning captain Dasun Shanaka praised his team for reaching back-to-back finals.
“We had the game under control, but the losing of wickets took it till the last over. We gave them a chance to come back in the game, but we knew Charith could get us home,” he said.
“We had a discussion before batting and we discussed the mistakes we made in the India game. We gave away wickets in the first 10 overs, and Kusal and Sadeera played brilliant knocks.
“I think they are the best players of spin in the Sri Lanka squad. And Charith, he showed great character. Special feeling, back to back finals.” Disappointed with loss, Pakistan captain Babar Azam pulled up his bowlers for a below-par performance.
“Sri Lanka played very well, better cricket than us. We have not been up to the mark in the bowling and fielding. That is why we lost the match,” he said
“In the middle overs, we did not bowl well. That partnership cost us. We started well, ended well, but middle overs were not great. We have lacked that.”