SL vs AFG 3rd ODI: Sri Lanka seal series with comfortable win in the decider

Toby Marshall
13 June 2023
SL vs AFG 3rd ODI

Sri Lanka sealed a convincing 2-1 ODI series victory against Afghanistan with a dominant display, propelled by half-centuries from their openers, Dimuth Karunaratne and Pathum Nissanka. The hosts comfortably chased down the target of 120 in Hambantota, leaving them with a remarkable 34 overs to spare. Led by the outstanding performance of Dushmantha Chameera, who was named the man of the match, Sri Lanka’s fast-bowling attack dismantled the struggling Afghan top order.

This triumph served as a significant morale boost for Sri Lanka as they prepare for a qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe, where two World Cup slots are at stake. While Afghanistan has already secured their place in the upcoming World Cup in India, scheduled for October, their captain, Hashmatullah Shahidi, expressed disappointment over “a bad day for our batters.”

Nissanka wasted no time in the chase, swiftly reaching his fifty in just 32 balls. His innings, embellished with eight boundaries and two sixes, came to an end on 51 when he was dismissed leg before wicket by Gulbadin Naib, concluding an impressive 84-run partnership for the opening wicket.

Meanwhile, Karunaratne, making his return to ODI cricket after more than two years, displayed his resilience by remaining unbeaten on 56. His innings, consisting of seven boundaries, marked his eighth half-century in this format. Accompanied by an unbeaten 11 from Kusal Mendis, Sri Lanka reached the target with utmost efficiency, not losing any more wickets. The match was concluded early as the target was achieved in just 16 overs.

The initial breakthrough was made by Kumara in the second over when he had Gurbaz caught at fine leg while attempting a hook shot. Taking advantage of slight movement off the surface, Chameera continued the momentum by claiming two wickets in the fifth over. Both Rahmat Shah and Shahidi were caught by the wicketkeeper, adding to Afghanistan’s troubles.

The faltering start soon turned into a complete collapse as Kumara delivered a remarkable in-swinger to dismiss Ibrahim Zadran. The ball pitched just outside off, nipped in between bat and pad, and crashed into the stumps. Ibrahim departed for 22, leaving Afghanistan in a spot of bother at 48 for the loss of 4 wickets.

During his second spell, Chameera bowled an exceptional over, although he was unfortunate to take only one wicket. He generated seam movement on a length ball aimed at the stumps, causing Zadran to attempt a leg-side shot but only managing to send a leading edge to point, where it was comfortably caught this time.

Among the spinners, Hasaranga proved to be the most effective, with two of his three wickets coming from his leg break deliveries. The first victim was Rashid Khan, playing his first match of the series, as he missed a sweep shot and was struck in front of the stumps. Mujeeb Ur Rahman then edged a Hasaranga delivery to the wicketkeeper, and Fazalhaq Farooqi was the final dismissal, trapped lbw by the well-disguised googly.

Author Toby Marshall