At the start of the chase, the Afghanistan coaches, on a whiteboard, had split the target of 242 into phases of ten overs. The last row had stated “48 - 242”, with the coaching staff expecting its in-form batting lineup to cross the line by the 48th over.
On the field, the batters did not disappoint. Despite falling behind the asking rate at the midway stage, the middle-order ensured it crossed the line well before the 48th over. The seven-wicket win against Sri Lanka at the Maharashtra Cricket Associartion Stadium on Monday, with 28 balls to spare, kept the spirited Afghan bunch in the hunt for a semifinal berth.
HIGHLIGHTS | Afghanistan vs Sri Lanka ODI World Cup 2023
Despite losing Rahmanullah Gurbaz in the opening over, Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmat Shah stabilised the chase before captain Hashmatullah Shahidi and Azmatullah Omarzai stiched together an unbroken partnership of 111 runs to finish the game off in style.
With scores tied, Omarzai attempted to hoick Dushmantha Chameera - playing his first game of the tournament - into the stands but Charith Asalanka dropped a sitter with a group of Afghanistan students in Pune cheering behind him. That summed up the night for Sri Lanka.
For Sri Lanka, barring left-arm pacer Dilshan Madushanka, who removed the openers, no other bowler appeared threatening. It resulted in Sri Lanka’s remote chances of making it to the last four being all but over.
More than its bowling unit, it was the batters who let Sri Lanka down. All the top-seven batters got into double figures but none of them could convert it into a fifty as Sri Lanka trudged to 241.
While the Lankan batters tried their best to break the shackles, the Afghanistan bowling unit just did not let them.
CHECK | ODI World Cup 2023 Points Table
Just when opener Pathum Nissanka and captain Kusal Mendis’ second-wicket association was turning threatening, Omarzai nipped one back to force a nick off Nissanka’s blade for Gurbaz to do the rest behind the stumps.
Rashid Khan delivered a peach, bowling Dhananjaya de Silva through his gate to ensure Sri Lanka had no chance of accelerating at the death. In fact, had it not been for Maheesh Theekshana’s cameo, Sri Lanka would have fallen well short of the 240-run mark.
In the end, even Theekshana’s efforts did not prove enough.
- India team for South Africa series: Full squad, players list updated announced
- Full list of 20 teams qualified for the T20 World Cup 2024
- Sweden left puzzled and frustrated after another failed bid to host the Winter Olympics
- Extremely grateful for what Tiger Woods is doing for golf: World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler
- IND vs AUS, 4th T20I preview: Vice captain Iyer returns as India looks to seal series against depleted Australia