Afghanistan outplay Sri Lanka and seal another commanding World Cup win

Afghans chase down 242 with ease in Pune for third win of tournament

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Afghanistan batsmen again showed incredible composure while chasing as they defeated Sri Lanka by seven wickets in their World Cup match on Monday.

Rahmat Shah, who had starred with the bat in their thumping win over Pakistan, scored a timely 62 while captain Hashmatullah Shahidi (58) helped chase down 242 in the company of Azmatullah Omarzai (73).

The Afghans exhibited the same calm demeanour that helped them reach 283 against Pakistan, maintaining the tempo by not getting too aggressive or too slow at any stage in Pune.

On Monday, the target was smaller but Sri Lanka’s bowling was more disciplined. In-form opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz was clean bowled for a duck in the first over of the chase, which gave Sri Lanka a big boost.

But Ibrahim Zadran (39) defied the Sri Lankans in the company of Shah and soon Sri Lanka’s limited bowling resources on a good batting surface was exposed.

Omarzai upped the scoring rate as the target approached, taking 63 balls for his knock that included six fours and three sixes.

Without taking many risks, Afghanistan reached the target in 45.2 overs for their third win from six games, that takes them up to fifth in the table and raises hopes of a shot at a semi-final spot.

Earlier, Afghanistan bowlers gave another good account of themselves, with fast-bowler Fazalhaq Farooqi marking his return to the team with a four-wicket haul at the MCA Stadium.

Left-arm quick Farooqi finished with an impressive 4-34 in 10 overs after replacing teenage leg-spinner Noor Ahmad who had taken three wickets in their win over Pakistan in the previous game.

Off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman opened the bowling with Farooqi and was equally effective, picking up 2-38 in 10 overs.

Sri Lanka opener Pathum Nissanka made 46 but other batsmen failed to make significant contributions as the islanders were bowled out for 241 in their final over.

The total could have been even lower with Sri Lanka rocking on 185-7 but Angelo Mathews (23) and spinner Maheesh Theekshana (29) showed some fight to push the score close to 250.

At the start, Farooqi was up and running when he had Dimuth Karunaratne lbw on review for 15.

Nissanka, fresh from his unbeaten 77 in the eight-wicket rout of England, was in sight of his fifth fifty in six innings this World Cup. But he was caught behind for 46, trying to cut paceman Omarzai, to end a 60-ball stay including five fours.

Mujeeb then struck in successive overs to leave the 1996 champions reeling.

Mendis gave his wicket away by sweeping Mujeeb straight to deep square leg, having taken 50 balls over his 39. Sri Lanka were soon 139-4 when Mujeeb got Sadeera Samarawickrama plumb lbw for 36.

Star leg-spinner Rashid Khan then marked his 100th ODI by clean bowling Dhananjaya de Silva with a wicked googly.

Tailender Theekshana played a useful knock before he was expertly yorked by Farooqi, who had Mathews well caught in the deep by Mohammad Nabi.

Updated: October 30, 2023, 4:52 PM