Asia Cup 2022: Sri Lanka hunt down Afghanistan with superb all-round effort in slog overs
Sri Lanka defeated Afghanistan by four wickets in the opening game of the Super Four phase of the ongoing Asia Cup 2022 on Saturday at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium thanks to a late blitz from left-hander Bhanuka Rajapaksa.
Rajapaksa scored a brazen 31 runs in just 14 balls, and Kusal Mendis amassed 36 runs during his innings. Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Naveen-ul-Haq each secured two wickets for Afghanistan. Sri Lanka, which was attempting to chase down a total of 176, got off to a quick start as openers Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Mendis amassed 57 runs in six powerplay overs without losing a wicket.
The opening stand of 61 runs was then broken by a brilliant bowl from Naveen-ul-Haq, who also removed Mendis, who had scored 36 runs in just 19 balls, giving Sri Lanka a commanding position.
Charith Asalanka, a left-handed hitter, suddenly entered the fray and teamed up with Nissanka, a set batter, to destroy the Afghan bowlers.
When he removed Nissanka, who attempted to play a shot wide outside off but was caught by Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Mujeeb Ur Rahman gave his team a much-needed wicket.
Sri Lanka’s score after the 10 overs was 82/2. Charith Asalanka struck by a wild delivery from Mohammad Nabi and was out for eight runs. Then Dasun Shanaka, the captain of Sri Lanka, entered the batting order and started a crucial innings. Gunathilaka manoeuvred and blasted a shot past the line for a boundary in the final bowl of the 12th over.
Shanaka dismissed by Mujeeb Ur Rahman in the 15th over of the innings, after he had scored 10 runs in just nine deliveries, giving his team a breakthrough. In the 16th over of the game, Bhanuka Rajapaksa hit two consecutive fours and a six off the bowling of Naveen-ul-Haq.
Naveen-ul-Haq was pummelling for 18 runs in one over by the partnership of Rajapaksa and Danushka Gunathilaka. Rashid Khan dealt Sri Lanka a severe blow in the 17th over of the innings. When he dismissed Gunathilaka, who had scored 33 runs in just 20 deliveries. Then, Wanindu Hasaranga arrived at the crease.
Rajapaksa scored 31 runs in just 14 balls until Naveen-ul-Haq dismissed him in the 19th over of the innings. But it was too late for Afghanistan.
When Sri Lanka needed one run in eight balls, Chamika Karunaratne entered the field. After that, Karunaratne hit a magnificent four to long-off to lead his team to a four-wicket victory over Afghanistan.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who had given the opportunity to bat first, played a swashbuckling 84-run innings. While Ibrahim Zadran added 40 runs as Afghanistan went on to score 175 for 6 in 20 overs.
Brief score: Afghanistan 175/6 (Rahmanullah Gurbaz 84, Ibrahim Zadran 40; Dilshan Madushanka 2-37) vs Sri Lanka 179/6 (Kusal Mendis 36, Bhanuka Rajapaksa 31; Mujeeb Ur Rahman 2-30).