Sharjah, Sep 3 (IANS) Sri Lanka produced a commanding performance to beat Afghanistan by four wickets in a Super Four match of the Asia Cup 2022 at the Sharjah International Stadium, here on Saturday.
An excellent attacking knock by Rahmanullah Gurbaz (84 off 45) powered Afghanistan to a challenging 175/6 in 20 overs. Apart from Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran also played an impactful knock (40 off 38) for Afghanistan, who would have hoped for a blistering finish but they lost wickets in a cluster in the last few overs.
Chasing a challenging total, Kusal Mendis (36 off 19), Pathum Nissanka (35 off 28), Danushka Gunathilaka (33 off 20) Bhanuka Rajapaksa (31 off 14) and Wanindu Hasaranga made vital contributions with the bat and led Sri Lanka to a memorable win.
Despite losing wickets at regular intervals, Sri Lankan batters didn’t allow the required run rate to rise high and eventually chased the target in 19.1 overs with four wickets in hand. Mujeeb Ur Rahman (2/30), Naveen-ul-Haq (2/40), Mohammad Nabi (1/34), and Rashid Khan (1/39), were the wicket-takers for Afghanistan.
Earlier, put into bat first, Afghanistan were off to a good start, scoring 49/1 in the powerplay.
While Gurbaz was in an attacking mode and did the bulk of the scoring, Hazratullah Zazai was not able to not find any fluency right through his innings. Eventually, Zazai played across to a length delivery and was clean bowled for 13 off 16 in the 5th over.
Even after the powerplay, Gurbaz continued his attacking intent and completed his fifty in 22 balls. He got support in Zadran and they kept the scoreboard ticking for Afghanistan.
Both Gurbaz and Zadran put on a stand of 93 runs for the second wicket. When Gurbaz got out in the 16th over, Afghanistan were 139-2 and looked set for a strong finish.
However, they lost the wickets of Ibrahim Zadran, Mohammad Nabi (1), and Najibullah Zadran (17) in the 17th and 18th overs respectively. Rashid Khan (9) managed to hit a six in the last over and took Afghanistan to 175-6, which was not enough in the end.
Dilshan Madushanka (2/37), Maheesh Theekshana (1/29), and Asitha Fernando (1/34) were the wicket takers for Sri Lanka.
Brief scores: Afghanistan 175/6 in 20 overs (Rahmanullah Gurbaz 84, Ibrahim Zadran 40, Dilshan Madushanka 2/37) lost to Sri Lanka 179/6 in 19.1 overs (Kusal Mendis 36, Pathum Nissanka 35; Mujeeb Ur Rahman 2/30) by 4 wickets