Afghanistan produced a scintillating batting performance powered by opening batter Ibrahim Zadran’s 120-ball 106, including 11 boundaries, to register an easy 60-run win against Sri Lanka in the first of the three-match ODI series at the Pallekelle International Cricket Stadium.
The top-three Afghanistan batters settled the issue, scoring 232 runs between them in a total of 294/8 off 50 overs after winning the toss. Ibrahim’s co-opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz struck 53 off 55 and No. 3 Rahmat Shah made 52 off 61.
Sri Lanka were then bowled out for 234 in 38 overs with pace bowler Fazalhaq Farooqi claiming 4/49 and was backed by Gulbadin Naib, who took 3/34, and Yamin Ahmadzai 2/46.
Sri Lanka’s run chase faltered in the historic first series between the two countries as the hosts lost two wickets for 35 after 6.2 overs with Kusal Mendis sent back for one, LBW to Ahnadzai with the score on 16.
Dinesh Chandimal was clean bowled by Farooqi for 14 as Afghanistan rode into the box seat of the D/N contest. Only opening batter Pathum Nissanka, with a defiant run-a-ball 85, and Wanindu Hasaranga with a rearguard 66 off 46 stood between Afghanistan and defeat.
Nissanka and Dhananjaya de Silva steadied the innings adding 39 for the third wicket, but Sri Lanka’s hopes evaporated when de Silva was bowled by Naib for 16, making it 3/74. It became 4/90 after 14.5 overs when Charith Asalanka fell for 10. Nissanka and skipper Dasun Shanaka took the score to 137 when the latter exited for 16 off 27.
Hasaranga joined Nissanka in adding 31 for the sixth wicket. Sri Lanka’s hopes were blown off when Nissanka was bowled by Farooqi — 6/168 after 29.3 overs. From that point Hasaranga fought a lone battle as he took on the Afghanistan attack but ran out of support before being the last to fall.
The loss puts Sri Lanka out of contention for automatic qualification for the 2023 World Cup.
Brief scores: Afghanistan 294/8 in 50 overs (Ibrahim Zadran 106, Rahmanullah Gurbaz 53, Rahmat Shah 52, Najibullah Zadran 42; Wanindu Hasaranga 2/42) beat Sri Lanka 234 in 38 overs (Pathum Nissanka 85, Wanindu Hasaranga 66; Fazalhaq Farooki 4/49, Gulbadin Naib 3/34, Hashmatullah Shahidi 2/31) by 60 runs.