Afghanistan lost 8 for 25 as Sri Lanka brought the innings to a close inside 34 overs
Sri Lanka scored 308 runs for the loss of 6 wickets (Asalanka 97*, Mendis 61, Omarzai 3-56), defeating Afghanistan by 155 runs. Afghanistan managed to score 153 runs (Rahmat 63, Ibrahim 54) before being all out. Hasaranga took 4 wickets for 27 runs.
Sri Lanka’s middle batting lineup, led by Charith Asalanka, scored over 300 runs for the second time in a row. This helped them secure a 155-run victory in the second One Day International (ODI) in Pallekele. Afghanistan collapsed during their chase, resulting in their loss in the three-match series with one game remaining.
Afghanistan was chasing a target of 309 runs. They were doing well, especially when Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmat Shah had a partnership of 97 runs for the second wicket. However, after Ibrahim got out, Afghanistan’s innings fell apart. They lost eight more wickets quickly and could only score 25 more runs. Sri Lanka ended their innings in under 34 overs.
Wanindu Hasaranga got 4 wickets for 27 runs. Asitha, who hadn’t played an ODI in over a year, and Dilshan Madushanka took 2 wickets each. Pramod Madushan also managed to get 1 wicket.
In the past, Afghanistan showed a strategy of patiently trying to score high in cricket matches. This was clear from the start of the game, as neither Rahmanullah Gurbaz nor Ibrahim chose to attack the bowlers aggressively. The accurate bowling by the Sri Lankan seamers played a big role in this careful approach. Asitha was able to make the ball move enough to make Gurbaz edge it, resulting in a relatively low score of 8 runs off 20 balls for him.
Ibrahim and Rahmat were the only ones who managed to form a successful partnership during the game. However, they also struggled to keep up with the required pace. When Ibrahim got out in the 27th over, the required pace went above 7.5 runs per over – still achievable. But then, Hasaranga took two wickets in quick succession. He bowled Rahmat by hitting his leg stump with a deceptive delivery and then got Hashmatullah Shahidi out by bowling through the space between his bat and pad. That’s when things started going wrong.
Azmatullah Omarzai scored a hundred in the first game but got out when he accidentally hit the ball onto the stumps via his pads. Hasaranga took two wickets in one over again in the match. Mohammad Nabi missed a shot and got out, followed by Ikram Alikhil who got run out after good fielding.
Madushanka then bowled the third double-wicket over of the innings, having Qais Ahmed caught at deep square leg and then trapping Noor Ahmad lbw first ball. Hasaranga then wrapped up the innings, dismissing Gulbadin Naib lbw, as Afghanistan lost their last eight wickets in the span of five overs.
Sri Lanka also lost wickets in pairs during their innings, but they managed to recover each time. As a result, four of their batters scored fifties and helped them reach a total of 308 for 6, after choosing to bat first. Asalanka played a crucial role in the end, scoring an unbeaten 97 off 74 balls. His partnership of 50 runs from 32 balls with Hasaranga helped Sri Lanka go beyond the 300-run mark, which was a good comeback after Afghanistan dominated the middle overs.
Asalanka, Kusal Mendis, Sadeera Samarawickrama, and Janith Liyanage all scored fifties. Two century partnerships – the first between Mendis and Samarawickrama, and the second between Liyanage and Asalanka – played a key role in the innings. The Asalanka-Hasaranga partnership helped Sri Lanka score 96 runs in the final ten overs.
Omarzai was the best bowler for Afghanistan, taking 3 wickets for 56 runs. However, there were three dropped catches from Fazalhaq Farooqi’s bowling. Farooqi, along with Noor Ahmad and Qais Ahmad, each took one wicket.
After Sri Lanka chose to bat, Nissanka seemed to be playing well, hitting three boundaries in his 17-ball 18. However, his attack was stopped short when he missed a full and straight delivery from Omarzai and was given out lbw. Avishka Fernando, who was not playing well, got out a few overs later by edging a back-of-a-length ball to point – similar to how he was dismissed three times in the recent series against Zimbabwe. This brought Mendis and Samarawickrama together, who managed to rebuild their innings with occasional boundaries to relieve the mounting pressure. Mendis also got lucky when Gulbadin Naib dropped an easy chance at short midwicket.
However, when they tried to increase the score, Samarawickrama hit a shot to the player positioned at mid-off on the boundary. Soon after, Mendis hit a shot straight to the player stationed at deep square leg in the next over. Asalanka and Liyanage then rebuilt the innings before changing their strategy. Liyanage reached his fifty by hitting a six down the ground but unfortunately got caught at long-on on the very next ball while attempting another big shot.
Afghanistan made some mistakes in the final overs by dropping both Asalanka and Hasaranga. As a result, Asalanka stayed on and helped Sri Lanka achieve a good score to defend, which they did comfortably in the end.
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