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February 5, 2024
Bravo Afghanistan 199/1 spurred by Ibrahim Zadran 101 n.o., Noor Ali Zadran 47, Rahmat Shah 46 n.o.

Sri Lanka Cricket

By Srian Obeyesekere

Minnows to the world and with next to no experience with only 7 test match outings in seven years, and ground to the dust by Sri Lanka facing a 141-run first innings deficit it was truly bravo Afghanistan riding trouble to a tremendous recovery score of 199 for 1 wicket on a brilliant unbeaten 101 by opening batsman Ibrahim Zadran that put them back in contention with just 42 to be erased when play resumes on the penultimate fourth day at the SSC grounds.

It was indeed a third day that Hashmatullah Shahidi’s underdogs took all the honours on the gallantry of openers Ibrahim Zadran whose innings consumed 217 balls highlighted by 11 boundaries, and Noor Ali Zadran a plucky 47 off 136 balls with 5 boundaries, who batted like true professionals in posting 106 for the first wicket consuming 257 deliveries having run through the Lankan innings from a mountain high overnight 410 for 6 claiming the rest of the wickets bar the retired hurt Cameera Gunasekera, for 29 runs with the last of the recognised batsmen Sadeera Samarawickrama put out in next to no time being the first to go lasting just 11 balls adding 6 to his overnight 21 accounted for by pacer Naveed Zadran who went on to put his partner, debutant Chamika Gunasekera out of action retired hurt on 16 after being hit on the front of his helmet by a searing delivery to which the batsman ducked into. Although a plucky Gunasekera continued to bat, he later complained of the after effects causing him to leave the field and subsequently sent to hospital for observation.

Of course, the wicket held no terrors for the batsmen on an SSC track traditionally known to hold good for batting as far as the third day. But it was to the credit of Afghanistan’s top three batsmen with one drop Rahmat Shah continuing the good work unbeaten on 46 off 98 following his first innings top score half century.

In many ways, here was a minnow’s side starved of real experience for the far and few sparingly allocated test itinerary that has come their way in a 7-year run wait that has not served their test cricket at all well, setting an example to others of going about building an innings against all the back to the wall odds staring at them. Their shot making in that trend was praiseworthy in cautiously treading their way to pulling their side out of the woods.

The backdrop going into Monday’s fourth day as it suggests is of two batsmen in form, one on a high of having reached three figures in Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmat Shah four short of his second half century who would front Afghanistan’s fightback against a Lankan outfit which for their part would look to get back to wicket buying ways in quest of getting back to winnings ways. Afghanistan, has thus far through their top three with No. 1 Ibrahim Zadran and No.3 Rahmat Shah still there brought this one-off historic test alive to a point of challenging Sri Lanka to going the distance. By their fightback they have raised new hope leaving the game open in a conjecture as to whether the minnow’s nation would go the distance to stretching the Lankans all the way.

CHIEF SCORES:

Afghanistan 198 and 199/1 (75 Overs)

(Ibrahim Zadran n.o. 101, Noor Ali Zadran 47, Rahmat Shah n.o. 46, Asitha Fernando 1/35)

Sri Lanka 439 (109.2 Overs)

(Angelo Mathews 141, Dinesh Chandimal 107, Dimuth Karunaratne 77, Nishan Madushka 37, Sadeera Samarawickrama 27, Chamika Gunasekara retired hurt 16, Kusal Mendis 10, Naveed Zadran 4/83, Nijat Masood 2/76, Qais Ahmad 2/98)

 

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