Afghanistan produced a scintillating batting performance powered by opening batsman Ibrahim Zadran’s 120-ball 106 inclusive of 11 boundaries to register a comfortable 60-run win over Sri Lanka in the first of the 3-match ODI series at the Pallekelle International Cricket Stadium on Friday on a lively batting strip. Afghanistan’s batting mechanism was such the issue was settled by the top three batsmen who scored 232 runs between them in a total of 294 for 8 off 50 overs after winning the toss with Ibrahim’s co-opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz striking 53 off 55 and No. 3 Rahmat Shah making 52 off 61. Sri Lanka was bowled out for 234 in 38 overs with pace bowler Fazalhaq Farooqi claiming 4 for 49 and well backed by Gulbadin Naib who took 3 for 34 and Yamin Ahmadzai 2 for 46.
Sri Lanka’s run chase faltered in the historic first series between the two countries as the hosts lost 2 wickets for 35 after 6.2 overs with Kusal Mendis sent back for 1 leg before wicket to Ahnadzai with the score 16 off the first ball of the fourth over. Dinesh Chandimal was clean bowled by Farooqi for 14 off 11 as Afghanistan rode into box seat of the day-night encounter. Only opening batsman Pathum Nissanka with a defiant run a ball 85 and Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva with a rear guard 66 off 46 stood between Afghanistan and defeat Nissanka and Dhananjaya de Silva steadied the innings adding 39 for the third wicket, but Sri Lanka’s hopes evaporated when de Silva was bowled by Gulbadin Naib for 16 making it 3 fo 74. It became 4 for 90 after 14.5 when Charith Asalanka fell for 10. Nissanka and skipper Dasun Shanaka took the score to 137 when the latter exited for 16 off 27.
Wanindu Hasaranga joined Nissanka in adding 31 for the sixth wicket as Sri Lanka’s hopes were blown off when Nissanka was bowled by Farooqi – 6 for 168 after 29.3 overs. From that point Hasaranga fought a lone battle as he took on the Afghanistan attack but ran out of support before being the last to fall.
The defeat put Sri Lanka out of contention for automatic qualification for the 2023 World Cup.
CHIEF SCORES: Afghanistan 294/8 50 Overs (Ibrahim Zadran 106, Rahmanullah Gurbaz 53, Rahmat Shah 52, Najibullah Zadran 42, Gulbadan Naib 22, Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva 2/42, Dhananjaya Lakshan 1/43, Lahiru Kumara 1/54, Kasun Rajitha 1/56, Mahesh Theekshana 1/62) Sri Lanka 234 38 Overs (Pathum Nissanka 85, Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva 66, Dhananjaya de Silva 16, Dasun Shanaka 16, Charith Asalanka 10, Fazalhaq Farooki 4/49, Gulbadin Naib 3/34, Hashmatullah Shahidi 2/31)