SL vs AFG: Ibrahim Zadran’s 98 gives Afghanistan series lead against Sri Lanka
Afghanistan showcased an impressive batting performance, spearheaded by Ibrahim Zadran’s exceptional knock of 98 runs and Rahmat Shah’s valuable contribution of 55 runs. Their efforts powered Afghanistan to a convincing 6-wicket victory over Sri Lanka, securing a crucial 1-0 lead in the series.
Having won the toss, Afghanistan opted to field and their bowlers delivered an admirable performance, restricting Sri Lanka to a total of 268 runs. Fareed Ahmad and Farooqi stood out, both claiming two wickets each and showcasing their bowling skills effectively.
In their pursuit of the target, Afghanistan’s batting prowess was on full display. Ibrahim Zadran played a brilliant innings, falling just short of a well-deserved century. Rahmat Shah’s contribution was also crucial in their successful chase. Additionally, skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi’s notable knock of 38 runs further solidified Afghanistan’s victory as they comfortably reached the target with 6 wickets in hand and 19 balls to spare.
Sri Lanka’s decision to bring back former captains Dimuth Karunaratne and Angelo Mathews, who had been out of the team for a while, did not yield positive results. Karunaratne fell for 4, while Mathews was dismissed for 12, leading Sri Lanka to a precarious position of 84 for 4 in 19.2 overs after opting to bat first.
Amid the struggle, Charith Asalanka took on the responsibility at No.5 and embarked on a rescue mission alongside Dhananjaya de Silva. The partnership blossomed until de Silva was bowled by Mohammad Nabi. Skipper Dasun Shanaka then joined Asalanka, helping Sri Lanka surpass the 200-run mark. However, Shanaka departed for a run-a-ball 17, inclusive of a boundary, when the score reached 215 in the 43rd over.
Asalanka found support in debutant Dushan Hemantha, who may not have taken a wicket but contributed a spirited 22 off 20 deliveries, including a six and a boundary. The duo added 48 runs for the seventh wicket off just 35 balls. Unfortunately, Asalanka was run out on the first delivery of the 49th over as Lahiru Kumara attempted a quick bye, resulting in the wicket-keeper dislodging the bails before Asalanka could make it to the crease.
Afghanistan faced an early setback in their run-chase as Rahmanullah Gurbaz was dismissed for just 14 runs by Lahiru Kumara. However, Ibrahim Zadran took charge and, with the support of Rahmat Shah, launched a counterattack. The duo formed a formidable partnership, accumulating 146 runs in 148 balls and showing no mercy to the Sri Lankan bowlers. Zadran’s impressive innings came to an end on 98, marking Matheesha Pathirana’s first ODI wicket. Pathirana had a challenging debut, conceding 17 runs in an over and going at a rate of 7.5 runs per over.
After Rahmat Shah’s departure following a resilient fifty, Mohammad Nabi and Hashmatullah Shahidi made sensible contributions to guide Afghanistan comfortably to victory, securing a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. The second ODI is scheduled for Sunday, followed by the third ODI on Wednesday, both to be played in Hambantota.