Dubai, Aug 27 (IANS) An excellent bowling performance followed by an equally good batting effort led Afghanistan to a convincing eight-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the first match of the Asia Cup 2022 T20 Tournament at Dubai International Cricket Stadium, here on Saturday.
It was morale crushing defeat for Sri Lanka and they now have to beat Bangladesh now by all costs to progress further in the tournament.
After being invited to bat first, Sri Lanka lost wickets in clusters and their batters looked uncomfortable in the middle for most of the innings, getting bowled out for a paltry 105 in 19.4 overs. Bhanuka Rajapaksa (38 off 29), Chamika Karunaratne (31 off 38) and Danushka Gunathilaka (17 off 17) were the top-scorers for Sri Lanka.
Chasing a small total, openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz (40 off 18) and Hazratullah Zazai (37 off 28) gave Sri Lanka a blazing start, scoring 41/0 in the first 4 overs. The openers didn't stop there and scored 21-runs in back-to-back overs, helping Afghanistan finish the powerplay with 83 on the board.
In the 7th over, Hasaranga gave Sri Lanka the first breakthrough by removing Rahmanullah Gurbaz (40 off 18) and then Ibrahim Zadran (15) got run out in the 10th over. However, Hazratullah Zazai and Najibullah Zadran (2) remained not out and took Afghanistan over the victory line in just 10.1 overs. Wanindu Hasaranga (1/19) was the lone wicket-taker for Sri Lanka.
Earlier, Afghanistan were off to a terrible start, losing the first three wickets for only five runs inside the two overs. Fazalhaq Farooqi gave Afghanistan the early breakthroughs in the first over of the innings as he first dismissed Kusal Mendis (2) and then he got rid of Charith Asalanka (0) in the very next ball. Naveen-ul-Haq then removed Pathum Nissanka (3), putting Sri Lanka in deep deep trouble.
With 5-3 in 2 overs, Sri Lanka needed partnership to redeem themselves. The likes of Rajapaksa and Gunathilaka, mixed caution with aggression, dealt in boundaries and took Sri Lanka to 41/3 after six overs.
The partnership (44 runs) between Rajapaksa and Gunathilaka was flourishing for Sri Lanka but Mujeeb Ur Rahman gave Afghanistan a timely wicket. Gunathilaka tried a reverse sweep against Mujeeb and the ball went directly to the fielder stationed near the boundary. Thereafter, Sri Lanka continued to lose wickets as they slipped from 49/4 to 75/9 which also included back-to-back run-outs.
Hasaranga threw his wicket away, trying to take on Mujeeb while Dasun Shanaka poked outside the off against Nabi and perished. Rajapaksa, who was the key man for Sri Lanka got run out while trying to steal a run following Nabi's misfield.
In the very next ball, Theekshana also got run out and very soon Matheesha Pathirana was also dismissed by Nabi. It was Chamika Karunaratne, who did some counterattack to drag the Sri Lankan side to 105.
Fazalhaq Farooqi (3/11), Mohammad Nabi (2/14), Mujeeb Ur Rahman (2/24), and Naveen-ul-Haq (1/23) were the wicket-takers for Afghanistan.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 105 all out in 19.4 overs (Bhanuka Rajapaksa 38, Chamika Karunaratne 31; Fazalhaq Farooqi 3/11, Mohammad Nabi 2/14) lost to Afghanistan 106-2 in 10.1 overs (Rahmanullah Gurbaz 40, Hazratullah Zazai 37; Wanindu Hasaranga 1/19) by 8 wickets
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