Mathews gives Sri Lanka unassailable 2-0 lead over Afghanistan in T20 series

Mathews struck 42 runs off 22 balls with the bat before taking two wickets in Sri Lanka’s 75-run victory in Dambulla.

Published : Feb 19, 2024 23:44 IST , DAMBULLA - 2 MINS READ

Sri Lanka’s Angelo Mathews celebrates after taking the wicket of Afghanistan’s Ibrahim Zadran.
Sri Lanka’s Angelo Mathews celebrates after taking the wicket of Afghanistan’s Ibrahim Zadran. | Photo Credit: AFP

Sri Lanka’s Angelo Mathews celebrates after taking the wicket of Afghanistan’s Ibrahim Zadran. | Photo Credit: AFP

All-rounder Angelo Mathews starred with a quickfire 42 and two wickets as Sri Lanka secured the three match T20 series against Afghanistan with a 72-run win on Monday.

Sri Lanka wrapped up the series with a game to spare in front of a capacity crowd at Dambulla on Monday.

“It is all about the mind,” Afghanistan’s skipper Ibrahim Zadran said after the match. “If you do not execute your plans, you cannot win.”

Former skipper Mathews was doubtful for the game in the afternoon with tightness in the hamstring, but the 36-year-old smashed an unbeaten 42 off 22 balls with four sixes and two fours. He was particularly harsh on Azmatullah Omarzai, hitting him for three consecutive sixes in the penultimate over.

“Whatever the team wants me to do, I am willing to adapt myself according to the situation,” Mathews said. His big hitting gave much needed momentum, and Sri Lanka finished on 187 for six in 20 overs, with 34 runs coming in the last two overs.

Mathews was involved in a 66-run partnership for the sixth wicket with Sadeera Samarawickrama, who posted the only half-century in the game.

Samarawickrama’s 51, which came in 42 balls with five fours, is his career-best score in this format.

“Credit goes to the batters,” captain Wanindu Hasaranga said. “They batted really well,” he added, giving credit to Mathews and Samarawickrama who “finished well to get to a big score”.

Mathews then took the new ball and dismissed the openers in his first two overs to put the Afghans on the back foot.

After Maheesh Theekshana trapped Rahmanullah Gurbaz leg before wicket, Binura Fernando claimed two wickets in an over to reduce Afghanistan to 31 for five inside five overs.

With half the side down even before Matheesha Pathirana was introduced to the attack -- Man of the Match in the previous game -- Afghanistan was in deep trouble.

Mohammad Nabi tried to salvage some pride, making 27 off 17 balls and adding 39 runs for the sixth wicket with Karim Janat, before Dasun Shanaka in his first over produced the breakthrough.

Karim Janat’s 28 runs in 23 balls was the Afghan’s top score, and Afghanistan was bowled out for 115 in 17 overs.

One of the highlights of the game was Hasaranga accounting for his 100th wicket in T20 internationals, when he cleaned up Najibullah Zadran. He became the second-quickest bowler to the 100-wicket milestone, having got there in 63 games. Only Lasith Malinga has taken 100 wickets in T-20 Internationals for Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka emerged victorious in all three formats in the series as it had won the one-off Test before sweeping the ODI series 3-0.

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