Disaster struck twice for Sri Lanka as they found themselves on the losing end once again. After losing to Bangladesh in the first match, it was a do or die situation against Afghanistan. To stay alive in Asia Cup 2018, they needed a victory. But the Afghan rode on the misery of the Lankans and sent them packing.
It’s difficult to digest the fact that it’s the same Sri Lankan team who was making it to so many World Cup finals. The Sri Lankan cricket is in a state of turmoil. Yes, the standard of Bangladesh and Afghanistan’s cricket has risen yet one would expect a team like Sri Lanka to win against them.
Steady batting by Afghanistan
Just like the game against Bangladesh, Sri Lanka lost the toss and was put into the field. The Afghan openers got off to a solid start and the first powerplay went wicketless. Mohammad Shahzad was aggressive while Ihsanullah Janat was cautious. The duo put on 57 runs for the first wicket before Dananjaya sent back Shahzad for 34 in the 12th over.
Janat was involved in another 50-run partnership and this time, it was with Rahmat Shah. Even after Janat’s departure for 45 in the 25th over, the batting side was comfortably placed at 107/2. The skipper Asghar Afghan didn’t last long and Shehan Jayasuriya accounted for his wicket for a solitary run.
Hashmatullah Shahidi then combined well with Rahmat as the latter got to his fifty. A partnership of 80 for the 4th wicket set the platform perfect for a late assault. Dushmanta Chameera picked up the wicket of Rahmat for 72 in the 42nd over when the score read 190.
Afghanistan missed the plot in the final overs and lost wickets in a bundle. Shahidi, Mohammad Nabi departed in the hunt for quick runs. Thisara Perera did well at the death and ended up picking 5 wickets. But the batting side did well to get to 249 after 50 overs.
Sri Lanka’s batting horrors
Sri Lankan innings got off to a terrible start when Kusal Mendis was trapped in front by Mujeeb Ur Rahman in the first over. Mendis failed to open his account in 2 consecutive games. It was time to rebuild the innings after the early loss. Upul Tharanga dropped the anchor while Dhananjaya de Silva too wasn’t in a hurry.
The stand for the 2nd wicket lasted until the 14th over before de Silva was run out for 23. Kusal Perera tried to be aggressive but Rashid Khan cut shot his knock to 17. Tharanga’s misery at the crease came to an end when Naib sent him back in the 21st over for 36 off 64 balls. Shehan Jayasuriya was the 2nd man to be run out in the innings and the batting was in disarray.
The chase was filled with a slight hope when Angelo Mathews and Perera got together. The 35-run stand kept Sri Lanka in the hunt. But Mathews played a horrible shot and threw his wicket away to Nabi. His dismissal for 22 in the 35th over opened the floodgates and there was no coming back from there.
Ultimately, Sri Lanka was bowled out for 158 in the 42nd over. They lost the match by a massive margin of 91 runs. The loss meant the Lankans have been knocked out of the tournament losing 2 in 2. On the other hand, Afghanistan makes it to the Super four round just by winning one game.
Afghanistan won the toss and opted to bat first
Afghanistan: 249/10 in 50 overs
Rahmat Shah 72 (90), Ihsanullah Janat 45 (65)
Thisara Perera 55/5 (9), Akila Dananjaya 39/2 (10)
Sri Lanka: 158/10 in 41.2 overs
Upul Tharanga 36 (64), Thisara Perera 28 (36)
Rashid Khan 26/2 (7.2), Gulbadin Naib 29/2 (8)
Afghanistan won by 91 runs
Player of the Match: Rahmat Shah