Opener Ibrahim Zadran smashed 106 to set up an emphatic 60-run victory for Afghanistan in the opening One-Day International against Sri Lanka on Friday.
Afghanistan posted 294 for eight after electing to bat as Ibrahim put on key partnerships including a 118-run second-wicket stand with Rahmat Shah, who made 52, in Pallekele.
Afghanistan fast bowlers Fazalhaq Farooqi and Gulbadin Naib shared seven wickets between them as the tourist bowled out Sri Lanka for 234.
Pathum Nissanka’s 85 and a threatening 66 by Wanindu Hasaranga went in vain as Afghanistan ended the Sri Lankan innings in 38 overs.
But it was the batting that set the tone for Afghanistan’s domination in the first-ever bilateral ODI series between the two teams.
Ibrahim led the charge with his second ODI century and Najibullah Zadran’s 25-ball 42 boosted the total but some disciplined bowling in the end checked Afghanistan, which looked like getting over 300.
Hasaranga returned impressive figures of two for 42 in his 10 overs.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz justified the captain Hashmatullah Shahidi’s decision to bat first as he hit a flurry of boundaries in his 53.
Ibrahim joined the attack as the two put on 84 runs to set the tone for the batting charge.
Cameos from Najibullah and Naib, who made 22 off 24 balls, took on the bowlers in the end but Sri Lanka gave away just 31 runs in the final five overs and took five wickets.
The host started briskly but regular wickets hurt its progress with Naib picking two to rattle the top-order.
Nissanka reached his fifty in 42 balls and put on 47 runs with skipper Dasun Shanaka, who fell to Naib.
Farooqi denied Nissanka his ton but Hasaranga soon hit back to raise hopes of a turnaround.
He smashed Mohammad Nabi for a six and four fours in a 22-run 31st over and raised his fifty in 31 balls.
Wickets kept falling and Hasaranga was the last man out to Farooqi, who finished with figures of four for 49.
The loss dented Sri Lanka’s chances of a direct qualification to the 50-over World Cup in India next year with crucial Super League points up for grabs in the series.
The second match is on Sunday at the same venue.
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