Afghanistan Bolsters Semifinal Ambitions

This was the third upset win that the Afghans recorded over a former World Champion, after beating Pakistan and defending champions England…reports Asian Lite News

Half-centuries from Rahmant Shah, skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi and Azmatullah Omarzai and a four-wicket haul by Fazalhaq Farooqi helped Afghanistan secure a memorable seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka in their ICC Cricket World Cup match at Pune on Monday.

With this win, Afghanistan climbed to the fifth position in the points table with three wins, three losses and six points.

This was the third upset win that the Afghans recorded over a former World Champion, after beating Pakistan and defending champions England.

With two wins and four losses, Sri Lanka currently sit in the sixth spot on the points table with four points.

Chasing 242, Afghanistan was off to a poor start as opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz was cleaned up for a four-ball duck by Dilshan Madhushanka. Afghanistan was 0/1 in 0.4 overs.

Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmat Shah started rebuilding the innings following the early hiccup. At the end of 10 overs, Afghanistan brought up their 50.

The partnership between both batters was cut short by Madhushanka, who dismissed Zadran for 39 off 57 balls, with four boundaries and a six after he was caught by Chamika Karunaratne at short third man. Afghanistan was 73/2 in 16.5 overs.

Rahmat and skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi helped Afghanistan reach the 100-run mark in 21.5 overs.

Rahmat reached his 25th ODI fifty in 61 balls, with five fours.

The 58-run partnership for the second wicket ended with Rahmat being caught by Karunaratne on a delivery by Kasun Rajitha for 62 off 74 balls, with seven fours. Afghanistan was at 131/3 in 28 overs.

Skipper Shahidi was joined by Azmatullah Omarzai and the pair brought up 150 for Afghanistan in 32.1 overs.

Shahidi brought up his second half-century of the tournament in 67 balls, with one four and a six.

Omarzai also reached his half-century in 50 balls, with two fours and three sixes.

Afghanistan eventually came out winners by seven runs, with Omarzai hitting the winning runs.

Madushanka got two wickets while Rajitha got one wicket.

Earlier, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Fazalhaq Farooqi’s fiery bowling helped Afghanistan skittle out Sri Lanka for 241 in the World Cup match at Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune on Monday.

Farooqi was the wrecker-in-chief for the Afghans as he broke the back of Sri Lanka’s batting with career-best ODI figures of 4-34 while Mujeeb Ur Rahman bagged two wickets. Pathum Nissanka scored the highest for Sri Lanka with 46 while Kusal Mendis scored 39 to help their team post a competitive total of 241.

After winning the toss, Hashmatullah Shahidi elected to bowl first. The match between the familiar foes got off to a slow start. Dimuth Karunaratne (15) hit the first boundary of the match in the fifth over but was removed for leg before wicket on the next ball. The call that the ball was moving down the legside was initially made by the on-field umpire, but it was reversed after review.

Even though Kusal Mendis attempted to keep the innings together with Pathum Nissanka, the run rate remained closer to four.

Nissanka eventually ramped up the tempo, hitting a string of boundaries on a deck where the ball bounced off the bat with good bounce. He shared 62 runs for the second wicket with Mendis before nicking one-off Azmatullah Omarzai’s bowling.

Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama stitched a steady third-wicket stand after early blows from Fazalhaq Farooqi and Azamatullah Omarzai. Following two consecutive half-centuries, Samarawickrama got things going early in his innings.

After the mid-innings, the Afghanistan bowlers altered the innings’ trajectory, limiting the pace of scoring and compelling Sri Lanka’s hitters to take long balls. As a result, in the 28th over, Mendis (39) successfully holed a delivery from Mujeeb Ur Rahman to deep midwicket. In his very next over, Mujeeb struck once more to account for the set Samarawickrama (36) as well.

With four wickets lost and little momentum, Charith Asalanka and Dhananjaya de Silva proceeded slowly. Even though he made it in, Dhananjaya (14) was destroyed by Rashid Khan’s skill because he was unable to capitalise on his start. After failing to read Rashid’s cunning delivery in the 36th over, Dhananjaya was set up and eventually bowled off the last ball of the over.

Asalanka too lost his balance and fell after misjudging when to tug on Farooqi and Rashid managed to hang onto a straightforward opportunity. At the end of 40 overs, Sri Lanka put 186 on the scoreboard with the loss of 7 wickets.

Maheesh Theekshana added a valuable 29 runs but Farooqi ended his stay at the crease with a superb yorker by in the 47th over.

Angelo Mathews then handled the charge as he slammed boundaries at regular intervals however his stint at the crease came to an end as he removed Farooqi for 23. With an excellent effort with the ball, Afghanistan skittled out Sri Lanka for 241.

Brief score: Sri Lanka 241 (Pathum Nissanka 46, Kusal Mendis 39; Fazalhaq Farooqi 4-34) beat Afghanistan: 242/3 in 45.2 overs (Azmatullah Omarzai 73*, Rahmat Shah 62, Dilshan Madhushanka 2/48). (ANI)

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