By Srian Obeyesekere
Afghanistan made short shrift of Sri Lanka by a rousing 7-wicket triumph with 28 balls to spare on a brilliant all-round performance initiated by fast bowler Fazalhaq Farooqi’s 4 for 34 and Mujeeb Ur Rahman 2 for 38 in dismissing their opponents for 241 off 49.3 overs with the batting running strong on Azmatullah Omarzai unbeaten on 73 off 63 (6×4, 3×6) and Rahmat Shah 62 off 74 (2×4, 1×6) at Pune’s MCA International Stadium on Monday. It raised the world cup semi-final hopes of outsiders Afghanistan who took their points tally to 6 in a dream big stage plunge from the progress of coming to terms with top gear cricket from the lowly on the back of some telling upsets best magnified by their shocking world cup upset of South Africa.
Put into bat, Sri Lanka’s top order conspicuous fallible inconsistency was exposed to the hilt with Omarzai accounting for the wickets of Dimuth Karunaratne leg before wicket for 15, Charith Asalanka caught by Rashid Khan for 22, 28 2 and Angelo Mathews held by Mohammad Nabi for 23. The highest a Lankan batsman could muster was Pathum Nissanka’s 46 off 60 (5×4). Azmatullah Omarzai n.o. 73 63 63, Rahmat Shah 62 74 7, Hashmatullah Shahidi n.o. 58 74 21, Ibrahim Zadran 39, Dilshan Madushanka 2/48, Kasun Rajitha 1/48)
Afghanistan overcame an early setback of losing Rahmanullah Gurbaz bowled by Dilshan Madushanka for a fourth ball duck in recovering to 73 off 97 balls when Madushanka sent back Ibrahim Zadran caught by Karunaratne for 39 off 57 (4×6) with Rahmat Shah going strong. He was joined by skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi who remained to the end with 58 off 74 (2×4, 1×6) having added a further 58 off 66 balls and the final charge unfinished 111 off 162 with Omarzai for the fourth wicket.
Sri Lanka 241 (49.3 Overs) RR: 4.86
(Pathum Nissanka 46, Kusal Mendis 39, Sadeera Samarawickrama 36 40 3, Maheesh Theekshana 29, Angelo Mathews 23, Charith Asalanka 22, Dhananjaya de Silva 14, Fazalhaq Farooqi 4/34, Mujeeb Ur Rahman 2/38, Azmatullah Omarzai 1/37, Rashid Khan 1/50)
Afghanistan 242/3 (45.2 Overs)
(Azmatullah Omarzai n.o. 73, Rahmat Shah 62, Hashmatullah Shahidi n.o. 58, Ibrahim Zadran 39, Dilshan Madushanka 2/48, Kasun Rajitha 1/48)