Dubai: Afghanistan pulled off a resounding victory in the opener of the DP World Asia Cup at Dubai International Stadium on Saturday to outclass Sri Lanka by eight wickets.
Afghan openers Hazratullah Zazai and Rahmanullah Gurbaz dashed any hopes of Sri Lanka to limit their opponents to scoring more than 10 runs in the first six overs with a calculated attack. When Gurbaz was released at the end of the power play, the match was almost over as Afghanistan went to 83/1 in 6.1 overs. Zazai remained undefeated with 37 points. Afghanistan surprised everyone with a reasonable game when the Sri Lankan side were expected to perform better, especially after a stunning performance at home against Australia. But all the islanders managed to do was disappoint themselves and the raucous fans cheering for Sri Lanka.
On the other hand, Afghanistan used all their experience to decimate the inexperienced Sri Lankan batsmen, who showed no intention of giving themselves a challenging total after being used to bat.
Kusal Mendis started the chute when he made a big throw, missed the line and sacked the leg before, and Fazalhaq Farooqi produced a beauty off the next ball to sack Charith Asalanka the next ball to put Sri Lanka two for three to reduce.
Despite losing two early wickets, the remaining batters made no effort to build up the innings, continuing to play their shots only to succumb. Bhanuka Rajapaksa fought a lonely fight until he went for a non-existent run to end his innings, while Chamika Karunaratne used his repartee to push the Sri Lankan total past 100 runs in the last over of the innings.
The eight-wicket task will make Sri Lanka’s promotion to the Super 4 a Herculean task as their run rate will now be far below, which will be difficult to change in the one game against Bangladesh should all teams finish on equal points .
Table of Contents
Afghan openers punish Sri Lankan bowlers
The Afghan openers show their clear intent to race to goal by scoring 10 goals in the first three overs of their innings. Although Afghanistan survived a scare when Rahmanullah was previously decided a leg only on the replays to indicate the ball missed the leg stump, they wasted no time in punishing the Sri Lankan bowlers and taking full advantage of the court restrictions. Afghanistan reached the 50-run mark in 4.2 overs, with Rahmanullah and Hazratullah hitting sixes at will. After 5 overs, Afghanistan is 62 without a loss.
Lackluster strike display from Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka put on a lackluster performance, being sent off with a meager 105 in 19.4 overs against Afghanistan in Saturday’s DP World Asia Cup opener at the Dubai International Stadium.
Nothing went right for Sri Lanka, who missed the home crowd after the event was moved from the island nation to the United Arab Emirates, from the draw which saw the Afghan skipper and Lankans bat with a fresh wicket.
However, the Sri Lankan batters’ performance must have disappointed the vociferous fans who cheered on their team. The way the Sri Lankan batsmen went about the innings seemed very old, they tried to attack every opportunity with no respect for bowling and no intention of starting the innings on a slightly greener field with more Build carry and swing.
Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Chamika Karunaratne were the main contributors to Sri Lanka’s tally as they lost heaps of wickets. It was Karunaratne’s knocking and an invaluable 30-run partnership that gave Sri Lanka something to fight for and surpassed the 100-run mark.
Afghanistan batters must show restraint and play the ball on merit to lead their team to victory. Only half the rent is still ours.
Sri Lanka surpasses 100 runs mark
Sri Lanka surpassed the 100-run mark, with Karunaratne providing the late fireworks with a lackluster batting show in the last over of the game. A 30-run unbroken last wicket partnership ensured the Islanders had some runs to defend after being 75/9.
Errors galore for Sri Lanka
Comedy of Errors speeds up Sri Lanka’s innings. First, a suicidal run from a miss put an end to Rajapaksa’s fighting push, who momentarily lost his concentration and went for a nonexistent single while just 10ft from his crease on a direct throw, Maheesh Theekshana narrowly saw the next ball before the fold. After 15 overs, Sri Lanka is 75/9.
A surprise in the cards
At half time Sri Lanka got completely lost after more than half hitting back in the pavilion. Rajapaksa is fighting a lonely battle and the right way is a sensible approach that seemed to be lacking. Hasaranga lofted a shot too early in the innings only to scoop the ball at Skipper Nabi for too long. Also skipper Shanaka quickly followed and tried to lead the ball to the third man only to get it to the goalkeeper. After 10.1 overs, Sri Lanka is 64/6. A surprise in the cards.
Sri Lanka’s brief uprising ends
Sri Lanka returned the initiative to Afghanistan after a brief consolidation by Gunathilaka and Rajapaksa. Gunathilaka didn’t take advantage of the missed opportunity to play reverse sweep straight into Deep Point’s hands. After eight overs, Sri Lanka is 54-4 after driving 49 of 7 overs, with the last of Azmatullah Omarzai’s power play overs costing 20 runs. The Afghan seaman could have saved himself when the left-hander was 15 had he not had a missed chance in front of Gunathilaka.
Patience is the order of the day for Sri Lankan thugs
Rajapaksa and Gunathilaka begin the rescue after Sri Lanka lost Pathum Nissanka’s third wicket, both hitting some well-timed shots. Now the real test begins with the emergence of the spin. After five overs, the Islanders are 21/3. Not the right start that the hosts would have liked. But there’s still plenty on the wicket with a good carry. Even a score of 145-150 is very defendable. The need of the hour is patience.
Afghanistan Pacer hits a double whammy
Afghan left-arm pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi beat Sri Lanka with a double strike in his first over from the backfoot. He first sacked Kusal Mendis, who was after an expansive drive, leg before the fifth ball, and then had Charith Asalanka stuck at his crease for a delivery that swung in to catch him. After one over Sri Lanka, 3/2 are on a hat trick with Farooqi.
Afghanistan won the draw and was fielded.
Afghanistan: Mohammad Nabi (Captain), Najibullah Zadran (VC), Rahmanullah Gurbaz (WK), Hazratullah Zazai, Ibrahim Zadran, Karim Janat, Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Naveen Ul Haq, Mujib Ur Rahman.
Sri Lanka: Dasun Shanaka (Captain) Danushka Gunathilaka Pathum Nissanka Kusal Mendis (WK) Charith Asalanka Bhanuka Rajapaksa Wanindu Hasaranga Maheesh Theekshana Chamika Karunaratne Dilshan Madushanka Matheesha Pathirana.
Sri Lanka have a slight advantage over Afghanistan in the Asian Cup opener
The DP World Asia Cup 2022 kicks off with a clash of mysterious spin wizards as both Sri Lanka and Afghanistan go head-to-head today at the Dubai International Stadium.
Sri Lanka have a slight advantage over Afghanistan due to their better punching power and their confidence is high after an impressive show at home against Australia.
But the Sri Lankan batters can’t afford to blink against a superior spin attack from Afghanistan led by Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
Sri Lanka will need to rely heavily on Wanindu Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana but the surprise package could be ‘Baby Malinga’ Matheesha Pathirana who could cause a bit of a problem for Afghan thugs on a slightly greenish field.