Gritty Lanka pulls off a thrilling win over Afghanistan

There was pull shot off pacer Asitha Fernando among the half dozen of sixes that he hit and once he was out, Sri Lanka bowlers did get a sense of reprieve on a ground where the side boundaries are really short.
Twitter/@ICC
Twitter/@ICC

SHARJAH: Sri Lanka batters proved their mettle to overcome Afghanistan in the opening match of the Super 4 stage of the Asia Cup here on Saturday. Set to chase a competitive score of 176, Sri Lanka got there with five balls to spare and four wickets remaining.

Opener Kusal Mendis provided the fireworks at the top scoring a brisk 36 (19b, 2x4, 3x6), and along with his partner Pathum Nissanka, 35 (28b, 3x4, 1x6), put on 62 runs for the opening wicket in 6.3 overs. Danushka Gunathilaka then biffed a few big hits en route to scoring 33 (20b, 2x4, 2x6) in the middle overs. Towards the end, Bhanuka Rajapaksa scored an entertaining 31 (14b, 4x4, 1x6) to take his team to a deserving win.

Earlier, Young opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz gave a brilliant exhibition of his dashing strokeplay as his 45-ball 84 was the cornerstone of Afghanistan’s competitive total of 175 for 6. However, Afghanistan will be a bit disappointed as the last five overs yielded only 37 runs and lost five wickets in a jiffy with Gurbaz’s dismissal putting some sort of a brake on the run flow.

Gurbaz, the 20-year-old right-hander, who was a part of IPL champion team Gujarat Titans, smashed half a dozen sixes and added 93 in just 10.4 overs with Ibrahim Zadran (40) to take Afghanistan to a more than respectable total at the Sharjah Cricket ground. The evening belonged to Gurbaz, who did get a slice of luck as Danushka Gunathilaka’s foot touched the rope when he went for a successive second six off mystery spinner Mahesh Theekshana, having slog-swept him for his first six.

However, there was no looking back after that even though the right hander didn’t use his feet much against the spinner.

The slog sweep off Wanindu Hasaranga over cow corner was a treat to watch and so was the two down-the-ground sixes off Chamika Karunaratne which was all about maximum power with hand-eye co-ordination and minimal feet movement.

There was pull shot off pacer Asitha Fernando among the half dozen of sixes that he hit and once he was out, Sri Lanka bowlers did get a sense of reprieve on a ground where the side boundaries are really short.

BRIEF SCORES: Afghanistan 175/6 in 20 overs (R Gurbaz 84, I Zadran 40) lost to Sri Lanka 179/6 in 19.1 overs

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