By Srian Obeyesekere
Locked even at 1-all, the dice is cast to a backdrop scenario of two sides on an even keel ready to unleash to pocketing the decisive third and final ODI where winning the toss would be central to making it when hosts Sri Lanka take on Afghanistan tomorrow at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium. The dictates of the previous two encounters signifies the strengths of the two two sides lies in the batting where the key would be wresting the early box seat insullation of heaping the pressure by bolder run making. Of course, Hashmatullah Shahidi’s charges won the first round by the bravo of chasing down what was quite a challenging target of 269 in demonstrating batting gung ho of a side unfaced and organised to going the distance. However, Dasun Shanaka’s Lankans did dig out the fly in the ointment to the Afghanistanis that they could be brought down by a tougher 300-plus target in levelling things by a huge 132-run margin thereafter.
In that vein, indeed the bottom line to the decisive showdown would be which of the two sides digs that early momentum where the Lankans have already demonstrated the depth of setting the opposition a daunting target. Similarly, Afghanistan has in no uncertain terms showcased the desired batting muscle to mounting a 300-plus
score pressure free on the luck of the coin. To their credit is that the top order did make a fight of it in the second closing the gap to 146 for 2 before the Lankans off set the balance when Dhananjaya de Silva sent back a threatening Ibrahim Zadran who was on to a half century.
From a Sri Lankan perspective it is significant that the assured presence of Dimuth Karunaratne who carved a half century infused the upfront balmy rhythm of a solid start together with the consistent Pathum Nissanka’s 43. While the shot making playmaker of the side Kusal Mendis added an almost tun a ball 78, it was the entry of Sadeera Samarawickrama at No. 4 in a stroke filled 44 that provided the extra muscle to the ultimate big total.
It boils down to a battle for supremacy on a track that has proved to be batting friendly, but on which there is reward for quality bowlers.