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Photo Story – A scrappy win is still a win

Photo Story – A scrappy win is still a win

eEstelle
04/06/2019

Sri Lanka came into their 2nd game of their ICC Cricket World Cup after having been given a hiding by the Kiwis in their opener. Wicketless and helpless against the onslaught of Martin Guptil and Colin Munro, the only thing worse than the bowling was their batting – crumbling for 136.

This time they were up against Afghanistan though, against whom a loss would mean ‘the death of Sri Lanka cricket’ (to remind you, Sri Lanka have in fact lost to Afghanistan previously). So, in a sense, there was even more pressure on them now, than if they were facing a top team!Image removed.

Kusal Perera was sent to open the batting alongside Dimuth Karunaratne and what a masterstroke it turned out to be! The pair 92 for the 1st wicket, in just 13.1 overs to get Sri Lanka off to the perfect start.Image removed.

An 11th ODI half-century followed for Kusal Perera, and it was almost like you were transported back to the times when Sri Lanka were the world’s ultimate ‘minnow-bashers’!

Watch - Kusal Perera belts 78 off 81

Image removed.Just as Sri Lanka were cruising along, on cruise control, Kusal Perera bossing the game… ‘Rashid who?’ on their lips, on came Mohammed Nabi aka The President! The 22nd over of the Lankan innings went 0.W.2.W.0.W. Lahiru Thirimanne bowled, Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews caught at slip and just like that Sri Lanka’s projected score dropped from 320+ to just creeping over 220.

Image removed.Hamid Hassan, Afghanistan’s old warhorse sent Dhananjaya de Silva packing next as Sri Lanka went from 144/1 – 149/5.Image removed.

Things didn’t get any better. Thisara Perera hit one directly at the man at short extra cover and quite inexplicably, took off for a run! Needless to say, he didn’t make it back before the throw!Image removed.

You would think that with Kusal Perera on the other end, the man walloping the bowlers all over the park, just idling as non-striker, the Sri Lankan lower-middle order would have the sense to give him the strike – you thought wrong. Image removed.

A massive rain delay saw the game shortened to 41 overs a side. With Sri Lanka already 8 down by then, surviving the 8 overs after the break proved too much.Image removed.

Lasith Malinga, Sri Lanka’s gem – the weight of allll thossse expectations, all resting on Lasith. And he got the breakthrough, sending back the dangerous Mohammed Shahzad.

Watch - Sri Lanka’s 1st wicket at the 2019 World Cup

Image removed.Hazrathullah Zazai though, was here to play. Reputation meant nothing to him, he just cleared his front leg and kept clearing the fielders.Image removed.

Rahmat Shah fell victim to Isuru Udana before Zazai himself hooked one to deep fine leg where Thisara Perera took a brilliant catch diving forward. Pradeep got his 1st, Hashmatullah Shahidi and then Perera picked up the main man – Mohammed Nabi – the smiles were back!

Watch - Thisara Perera takes a blinder at fine-leg

Image removed.Afghanistan, with a win against a top 10 team in their sights, were not going to go down without a fight. The counter-attack came from the calm Gulbadin Naib – the skipper. He was joined by Najibullah Zadran.Image removed.

But Nuwan Pradeep just wouldn’t let up, bouncers, slower balls, Yorkers, they were all hurled at the batsmen – Sri Lanka couldn’t lose, not to Afghanistan! The fast one picked up Naib and Rashid Khan in one more, threatening the Afghani resistance.Image removed.

Gulbadin was gone, so was Rashid Khan but Najibullah held on until, Sri Lanka produced a direct hit (would you believe it?) Karunaratne the man to hit the stumps and send Afghanistan back to the bottom of the pile.Image removed.

The man who started it, fittingly finished it! A roar from Malinga, the icing on the mistake-riddled, crumbling Sri Lankan cake.

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