ON EVE WORLD CUP WARM UP
By Srian Obeyesekere
Kusal Mendis’ singlehanded lionhearted gung-ho 158 off 87 powered by 19 boundaries and 9 over the top in a total of 294 could not prevent Afghanistan from speeding to a 6-wicket win over Sri Lanka with 23 balls to spare after being set a rain revised target of 257 off 42 overs in an one eve World Cup warm up match on the bravado of a 212 second wicket partnership between opening batsman Rahmanullah Gurbaz who retired out on 119 off 92 inclusive of 8 boundaries and Rahmat Shah retired out on 93 off 82 packed with 10 boundaries and 3 sixes offsetting the early loss of Ibrahim Zadran for 18 yesterday at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium, Guwahati.
Mendis bestowed with leading the side with regular captain Dasun Shanaka taking a virtual passenger role without batting or turning his arm, rose to the occasion in great aplomb onslaught but which failed to inspire the rest of the top batting order bar Sadeera Samarawickrama 39 off 54 with 4 boundaries, who put on 158 for the second wicket having come together after Pathum Nissanka had departed for 30 with Sri Lanka 82 for 2 after 12.4 overs with Dimuth Karunaratne gone for 8. Sri Lanka’s inconsistent batting was once again exposed as they lost the last 8 wickets for 54 runs in the face of Mohammad Nabi grabbing 4 wickets after Mendis retired out in the 30th over.
Despite the early loss of Ibrahim Zadran for 7 Gurbaz and Rahmat steadied the innings and when rain halted play were on 53 and 51 respectively from which point the pair further consolidated in taking Afghanistan closer to victory. Gurbaz retired out with the score on 231 by the 32nd over with just 26 required for victory as Najibullah Zadran 15 off 22 and Azmatullah Omarzai 14 off 7 with a six and boundary carried them to victory in an unfinished 27 for the fifth wicket on a day the Lankan bowling attack faltered with only Kasun Rajitha on spot with 1 for 18 from 7 while Lahiru Kumara who claimed the other wicket concede 53 off 6, Dunith Wellalage 61 off 8 and Dushan Hemantha 58 off 6.1.
Sri Lanka 294 (50 Overs) RR: 6.34
(Kusal Mendis retired out 158, Pathum Nissanka 30, Sadeera Samarawickrama 39, Dhananjaya de Silva 22, Charith Asalanka 12, Mujeeb Ur Rahman 1/25, Fazalhaq Farooqi1/27, Abdul Rahman 1/39, Naveen-ul-Haq 1/41, Rashid Khan 1/42)
Afghanistan 261/4 (38.1 Overs) RR: 6.83
(Rahmanullah Gurbaz retired out 119, Ibrahim Zadran 18, Rahmat Shah retired out 93, Najibullah Zadran n.o.. 15, Omarzai n.o. 14, Kasun Rajitha 1/18, Lahiru Kumara 1/58)