Contributions from all the batters helped Sri Lanka chase down a record 176 against Afghanistan in the 1st game of the Super 4s Round of the Asia Cup in Sharjah.
Things started poorly for the Sri Lankans despite winning the toss, when an edge by Rahmanullah Gurbaz flew through the vacant slip area in the 2nd over of the game – perhaps a sign of things to come as Afghanistan had their share of luck with the bat.
Gurbaz looked in incredible touch but he received another early reprieve when he was caught in the deep off the bowling of Maheesh Theekshana, but Danushka Gunathilake stepped on the boundary rope.
It was just the opportunity the wicket-keeper needed as he blazed his way through the Afghan innings, clearing the ropes at will. Afghanistan were cruising at 138/1 in 15 overs, looking to push towards the 200-run mark, but the dismissal of Gurbaz for 84 saw the momentum switch.
Afghanistan ended up scoring just 38 in the last 5 overs, losing 5 wickets during that time. Youngster Dilshan Madushanka bowled beautifully for the most part, alongside Asitha Fernando, who held his own at the death. The real star was Theekshana however, as the mystery spinner managed to keep things quiet, despite bowling 2 of the last 5 overs where he went for just 8 runs, while picking up the wicket of Mohammed Nabi.
Despite the strong finish, Sri Lanka were still staring at a record chase at the venue. They started strong, with Kusal Mendis and Pathum Nissanka once against providing a solid start. Mendis got going against Mujeeb Ur Rahman, with a six over midwicket, before taking Rashid Khan for 17 off his 1st over as Sri Lanka ended the powerplay with 57 runs.
Mendis fell but Sri Lanka kept going thanks to Nissanka, but when he fell against the run of play, you could almost sense a bit of a wobble, with Danushka Gunathilake and Charith Asalanka, the latter who has looked extremely out of sorts all tournament, at the crease.
Gunathilake played his part to perfection however, finally looking like he could fit into that No. 4 role for Sri Lanka.
Afghanistan continued to pick up wickets, but with Sri Lanka keeping the scoring rate up, it was always just a matter of the batters getting one big over to shift the momentum completely in Sri Lanka’s favour. That over came off the bat of Bhanuka Rajapaksa – shifted to No. 6 today. The left-hander looked in a brutal mood and smacked Naveen Ul Haq for two fours and a 6 in the 16th over and brought the equation down to 31 off the last 4.
From that point there was no doubt about the result and Sri Lanka ultimately got home with 5 balls to spare.
Once again they enjoyed their fair share of luck with a few opportunities going begging in the field.
Sri Lanka will next face India on the 6th of September.
|Hazratullah Zazai||b Dilshan Madushanka||13||16||2||0||81.25|
|Rahmanullah Gurbaz||c Wanidu Hasaranga b Asitha Fernando||84||45||4||6||186.67|
|Ibrahim Zadran||c Asitha Fernando b Dilshan Madushanka||40||38||2||1||105.26|
|Najibullah Zadran||run out (Wanidu Hasaranga)||17||10||1||1||170.00|
|Mohammad Nabi||c & b Maheesh Theekshana||1||4||0||0||25.00|
|Rashid Khan||run out (Pathum Nissanka)||9||7||0||1||128.57|
|Karim Janat||not out||0||1||0||0||0.00|
|Extras||11 (b 0 , lb 1 , nb 1, w 9, pen 0)|
|Total||175/6 (20 Overs, RR: 8.75)|
|Pathum Nissanka||c Rahmanullah Gurbaz b Mujeeb ur Rahman||35||28||3||1||125.00|
|Kusal Mendis||c Naveen ul Haq b Ibrahim Zadran||36||19||2||3||189.47|
|Charith Asalanka||b Mohammad Nabi||8||14||0||0||57.14|
|Dhanushka Gunathilake||b Rashid Khan||33||20||2||2||165.00|
|Dasun Shanaka||c Najibullah Zadran b Mujeeb ur Rahman||10||9||1||0||111.11|
|Bhanuka Rajapaksa||b Naveen ul Haq||31||14||4||1||221.43|
|Wanidu Hasaranga||not out||16||9||3||0||177.78|
|Chamika Karunaratne||not out||5||2||1||0||250.00|
|Extras||5 (b 0 , lb 2 , nb 0, w 3, pen 0)|
|Total||179/6 (19.1 Overs, RR: 9.34)|
|Fazal Haq Farooqi||3.1||0||34||0||10.97|
|Mujeeb ur Rahman||4||0||30||2||7.50|
|Naveen ul Haq||4||0||40||2||10.00|