Sri Lanka Beats Afghanistan, Reaches Super Four

Sri Lanka Beats Afghanistan, Reaches Super Four

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Sri Lanka secured a narrow two-run victory in their last group game of the Asia Cup, allowing them to qualify for the Super 4 stage.  Afghanistan, in their pursuit of a challenging target, made some miscalculations, resulting in their loss in the match.

Afghanistan had a chance to eliminate Sri Lanka from the tournament based on net run-rate. They needed to chase down a target of 292 runs in 37.1 overs to advance from Group B alongside Bangladesh.

Mohammad Nabi raised Afghanistan’s hopes with an explosive innings, scoring 65 runs off just 32 balls. He achieved the fastest half-century for his country, taking only 24 balls to reach the milestone. However, his innings was brought to an end in the 27th over when Dhananjaya de Silva made an outstanding running catch in the outfield.

Karim Jannat (22), Najibullah Zadran (23), and Rashid Khan (27 not out) made valuable contributions with brief cameos, attempting to maintain Afghanistan’s momentum against Sri Lanka’s pace and spin bowlers. However, Mujeeb Ur Rahman eventually got out, caught at long-on, and Afghanistan’s innings ended at 289-9 in 37.1 overs.

It seems that Afghanistan was not aware of the calculation that they could have advanced to the Super 4 stage if they had managed to reach a total of 295 runs over the next three balls.

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The No. 11 batsman, Fazalhaq Farooqi, defended the next two balls delivered by part-time spinner Dhananjaya de Silva before being trapped lbw off the next ball. This left Rashid Khan stranded at the non-striker’s end, and Afghanistan was bowled out for 289 in 37.4 overs.

Mohammad Nabi had displayed a lot of aggression against the pace bowlers Matheesha Pathirana and Maheesh Theekshana, hitting five sixes and six boundaries in his innings. However, he was eventually dismissed, leaving Afghanistan still needing 91 runs for victory.

Fast bowler Kasun Rajitha had a mixed performance, taking four wickets for 79 runs, which included two early breakthroughs. However, he struggled against the aggressive Afghan batters, who consistently put the Sri Lankan bowlers under pressure with their aggressive shot-making. Despite his early success, Rajitha found it challenging to contain Afghanistan’s attacking batting lineup.

In the first innings, Kusal Mendis fell just short of a century but played a crucial role with his 92 off 84 balls. Sri Lanka posted a total of 291-8 after captain Dasun Shanaka won the toss and chose to bat.

Pathum Nissanka (41) and Dimuth Karunaratne (32) provided a solid start, putting up 63 runs on the board before Gulbadin Naib took three wickets in his seven-over spell, reducing Sri Lanka to 86-3.

Mendis then led the rebuilding effort with a 102-run partnership alongside Charith Asalanka (36). However, Rashid Khan dismissed Asalanka, and Mujeeb Ur Rahman clean bowled Dhananjaya de Silva. Mendis was unlucky to miss out on a century as he was run out when Rashid Khan dropped Dasun Shanaka’s catch, but the ball hit the stumps at the non-striker’s end with Mendis short of his crease.

Dunith Wellalage (33 not out) and Maheesh Theekshana (28) contributed with a 54-run partnership for the eighth wicket, helping Sri Lanka edge closer to the 300-run mark.

The Asia Cup will continue with Pakistan facing Bangladesh in the first Super 4 game at Lahore on Wednesday. After this match, the tournament will shift to Sri Lanka for the remaining five Super 4 games, with the final scheduled for September 17th.

Final Scores:

Sri Lanka 291/8in 50 overs (Kusal Mendis 92, Pathum Nissanka 41, Charith Asalanka 36; Gulbadin Naib 4-60, Rashid Khan 2-63) beat Afghanistan 289 in 37.4 overs (Mohammad Nabi 65, Hashmatullah Shahidi 59, Rahmat Shah 45, Rashid Khan 27*; Kasun Rajitha 4-79, Dhananjaya de Silva 2-12) by 2 runs

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