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July 16, 2023
Sri Lanka A’s Minod Bhanuka a battling 119, but cannot stave off defeat as Afghanistan A win by 11 runs

Sri Lanka Cricket

Srian Obeyesekere

Host country Sri Lanka A lost their second game to Afghanistan A by 11 runs chasing 253 in a cliff hanger ending that saw opening batsman Minod Bhanuka battle his way to a century 119 off 103 inclusive of 17 boundaries and a six to lift Sri Lanka from the peril of 3 for 12, 4 for 31, 5 for 66 and 7 for 102 to within sight of victory when he blew all the hard work by a loose stroke going for a heist when within striking distance of the final hurdle of 23 runs into the 38th over at the Colombo Cricket Club Grounds yesterday. Sri Lanka A was bowled out for 241 in only 38.4 overs.Had the wicket-keeper batsman fulfilled that final hurrah indeed Minod Bhanuka would have ended truly the valiant hero, but it all went out of the window when the left hander having stood firm right throughout the calamity ridden Lankan innings when fiery paceman Mohammad Ibrahim ran riot with the ball smoking out the top four frontline batsmen Avishka Fernando, centurion of the previous game leg before wicket for a first ball duck before clean bowling Lasith Croospulle for 7 and making Pasindu  Sooriyabandara his second leg before wicket victim for a second ball duck and reached giant killing size when he had Sahan Arachchige caught by Baheer Shah for 3 to leave the locals wobbling on 4 for 31 as early as the third ball of the fifth over.

Indeed, Afghanistan’s pace duo of Mohammad Ibrahim and Mohammad Saleem wrought havoc as the two giant sized pace bowlers hurled thunderbolt stuff with the latter accounting for two wickets including that of Dushan Hemantha who had forged Sri Lanka As recovery trail by a dogged 31 off 53 containing 3 boundaries in adding an invaluable 98 for the eighth wicket when the game looked good as over for the Lankans off 104 balls. It is reflective that when Bhanuka and Hemantha had done all the hard work and had things within their grasp for the final charge with plenty of overs remaining indiscretion crept in as first Hemantha fell trying to heist  Sharifuddin Ashraf and holing to  Zubairullah Akbari and later Bhanuka likewise spooning a lollypop catch to Baheer Shah of Mohammad Saleem.

Afghanistan’s 252 for 9 from 50 overs mainly revolved around Reyaz Hassan’s 82 off 104 balls inclusive of 11 boundaries and Noor Ali Zadran 53 off 62 incluisve of 5 boundaries and a six with Ikram Alikhil remaining unbeaten on 34 off 44. 

Chamika Karunaratne reaped 3 wickets for 56 off 8 overs and Dushmantha Hemantha 2 for 54 from his 10 overs, but it is questionable why opening bowler Lahiru Samarakoon who reduced the Afghans to 1 for 1 by removing Zubairullah Akbari was given only 7 overs after his first spell read 1 for 15 off 5 overs and finished with tidy figures of 2 for 25. As it is the spinning duo of Hemantha and Wellalage, who both bowled 10 each, conceded as much as 101 runs between them  with the Lankan skipper conceding 47 for his 1 wicket. Binura Fernando took 1 for 35.


Afghanistan A 252/9 (50 Overs)


(Reyaz Hassan 82, Noor Ali Zadran 53, Ikram Alikhil n.o. 34, Shahidullah Kamal 23, Sharaffudin Ashraf 19, Said Baheer Shah 15,Chamika Karunaratne 3/56, Dushan Hemantha 2/54, Lahiru Samarakoon 2/25, Binura Fernando 1/35,   

Sri Lanka A 241 (38.4 Overs)

(Minod Bhanuka 119, Dushan Hemantha 31, Dunith Wellalage 21, Ashen Bandara 19, Lahiru Samarakoon 16, Mohammad Ibrahim 4/52, Mohammad Saleem 2/47, Zia Ur Rehman  Akbar 2/42)

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