DHANANJAYA DE SILVA PLAYER OF THE MATCH
By Srian Obeyesekere
Sri Lanka achieved the reality bulldozing 300-plus score in a 323 for 6 groove to demolish a threatening Afghanistan by 132 runs by a terrific all-round display mounted upfront by a cameo 75-ball 78 by Kusal Mendis and equally solid 52 of 62 by opening batsman Dimuth Karunaratne in the second ODI to draw level 1-all in the 3-match series at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium on Sunday.
Taking first lease on winning the toss, the Lankans compensated for the run vacuum that cost them the opening game despite a healthy 268 which Afghanistan crossed without any hassle by this time making sure they touched the necessary winning skyline that put out a game opposition simply dwarfed by the magnitude of the target. It indeed tested the ultimate skill of a minnows side that had raised its game to running down challenging targets, but fell short of surmounting the bigger challenge as Afghanistan lost the plot when looking pretty on 146 for 2 off 30.2 overs. That was when their trump card Ibrahim Zadran was taken out next ball by Dhananjaya de Silva for 54 off 75 . From that point it all evaporated for Afghanistan which lost their last 7 wickets for 45 runs with the two-pronged spin attack of Dhananjaya de Silva and a back in business from injury Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva sharing three each after pacer Dushmantha Chameera had made early inroads removing opening batsman Rahmanullah Gurbaz caught behind by wickets-keeper Kusal Mendis for 2 with the score 11.
But Ibrahim Zadran brought his side back in to the game forging two useful partnerships with Rahmat Shah 35 off 42 taking the score to 62 for the second wicket, and following Shah’s dismissal, 84 together with skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi who made 57 off 62. That was when the Lankans got the big wicket of Zadran going on to wrap it up in the next 70 deliveries to win with 7.5 overs to spare. Chameera too returned fine figures of 2 for 18.
The come back triumph was to insulate Dhananjaya de Silva in the Player of the Match take following his 29 off 24 (1×6, 1×4) in the unfinished seventh wicket 40 fireworks off 13 together wih Wanindu Hasaranga cameo 29 off 12 (4×4, 1×6) in the final smoking of the Afghanistan attack.
But the day literally belonged to Sri Lanka’s four frontliners – Dimuth Karunaratne, who lost no time in instilling his assured presence with the bat by a calculated strike rotating half century crossing the boundary on 7 occasions, and Pathum Nissanka 43 off 56 with 6 boundaries and Kusal Mendis adding the tempo one drop pounding 7 boundaries and a six; the induction of the 27-year old Sadeera Samarawickrama at No. 4 in place of Angelo Mathews, who smashed 44 off 46 fine eged by 5 boundaries.
The Karunaratne-Nissanka partnership realised 62 off 95 balls, Karunaratne-Mendis second wicket value 48 off 40, Mendis-Samarawickrama third-wicket 88 off 86, and Mendis- Dasun Shanaka fifth-wicket 41 off 21. The skipper infused his all-round imput hammering 23 off 13 (2×4, 1×4).
Sri Lanka 323/6 (50 Overs)
(Kusal Mendis 78, Dimuth Karunaratne 52, Sadeera Samarawickrama 44, Pathum Nissanka 43, Dasun Shanaka 23, Dhananjaya de Silva n.o. 29, Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva n.o. 29, Mohammad Nabi 2/52, Fareed Ahmad 2/61, Mujeeb Ur Rahman 1/30, Noor Ahmad 1/70).
Afghanistan 191 (42.1 Overs)
(Ibrahim Zadran 54, Hashmatullah Shahidi 57, Rahmat Shah 36, Noor Ahmad Dhananjaya de Silva 3/39, Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva 3/42, Dushmantha Chameera 2/18, Dasun Shanaka 1/29, Maheesh Theekshana 1/35)