4-WKT. DUSHMANTHA CHAMEERA PLAYER OF THE MATCH & PLAYER OF THE SERIES
By Srian Obeyesekere
In what turned out to be an utter anti-climax to what was a much hyped showdown of the decisive third and final ODI, Sri Lanka enjoyed a cakewalk 9-wicket triumph over Afghanistan to pocket the 3-match series 2-1 at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium here today in hitting back at a side that had automatically qualified for this year’s showpiece ICC World Cup at the expense of the former world champions last year.
The champagne avenging win came courtesy Player of the Match strike of 4 for 63 by speedster Dushmantha Chameera 4 for 63, Wanindu Hasaranga 3 for 7 in a three-pronged tearing up courtesy of a hitherto rampant Afghanistan frontline batting backed by fellow pacer Lahiru Kumara 2 for 29 who sparked the routing of Afghanistan shot out for 115 off 22.2 overs. Kumara removed Rahmanullah Gurbaz for 8 caught by Dimuth Karunaratne, and the prize wicket of Ibrahim Zadran whom he clean bowled for 22 reducing the visitors to 48 for 4 after 8.4 overs while in between Chameera ran through the second and third wickets of Rahmat Shah caught behind by stumper Kusal Mendis for 7 and skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi for 4 also held by Mendis in that mop up operation.
It was all over just after lunch as the Lankans swept to their 117 target reaching 120 for 1 with Dimuth Karunaratne striking the winning hit 5 runs off Mohammad Nabi to remain unbeaten on 56 off 45 balls with Kusal Mendis on the other end on 17 following a rousing 84-run first innings bonding with Pathum Nissanka who sparkled with arousing knock of 51 off 34 mauling the Afghanistan attack to the tune of 8 over the top and 2 across. The partnership came off 61 deliveries. If Nissanka reached his element in a serenading array of strokes, Karunaratne rose to the occasion in a half century flurry in c ompensating for two years in the ODI wilderness, and driving home his value input right up front in a gearing for world cup duty.
It was an on all fours come back to gearing for the June world cup qualifier when Sri Lanka will take on Ireland in their first hurdle.
The 31-year old Chameera rounded off in style also pocketing the Player of the Series award
Afghanistan 116 (22.2 Overs)
(Ibrahim Zadran 22, Mohammad Nabi 23, Fareed Ahmad n.o. 13, Dushmantha Chameera 4/63, Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva 3/7, Lahiru Kumara 2/29, Maheesh Theekshana 1/16)
Sri Lanka 120/1 (16 Overs)
(Dimuth Karunaratne n.o. 56, Pathum Nissanka 51, Kusal Mendis n.o. 11, Gulbadin Naib 1/19)