SHARJAH: A late blitz from left-hander Bhanuka Rajapaksa helped Sri Lanka defeat Afghanistan by four wickets in the first match of the Super Four phase of the ongoing Asia Cup 2022 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Saturday.
Rajapaksa slammed swashbuckling 31 in 14 balls while Kusal Mendis played a knock of 36 runs. For Afghanistan Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Naveen-ul-Haq bagged two wickets each.
Chasing a target of 176, Sri Lanka got off to flying start as their openers Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Mendis gathered 57 in six powerplay overs without losing a wicket.
Naveen-ul-Haq then delivered a stunning bowl to break the opening stand of 61 runs, dismissing Mendis who smashed 36 runs in 19 balls to put Sri Lanka in a commanding position.
Left-handed batter Charith Asalanka then came to bat and joined hands with the set batter Nissanka in thrashing the Afghanistan bowlers. Mujeeb Ur Rahman provided his team with a much-needed wicket as he dismissed Nissanka, who tried to play a shot wide outside off but was caught by Rahmanullah Gurbaz.
After the 10 overs, Sri Lanka's score read 82/2. Mohammad Nabi delivered an over-the-top delivery to bowl Charith Asalanka for eight runs. Sri Lanka skipper Dasun Shanaka then came to bat and anchored much-needed innings. In the last bowl of the 12th over, Gunathilaka made room and slammed a shot through the line for a boundary.
In the 15th over of the innings, Mujeeb Ur Rahman gave his team a breakthrough as he sent Shanaka packing after he had scored 10 runs in nine deliveries.
Bhanuka Rajapaksa slammed back-to-back two fours and one six on the delivery of Naveen-ul-Haq in the 16th over of the match. The duo of Rajapaksa and Danushka Gunathilaka slammed Naveen-ul-Haq for 18 runs in an over. In the 17th over of the innings, Rashid Khan gave Sri Lanka a major blow as he bowled Gunathilaka, who had smashed 33 runs in 20 deliveries. Wanindu Hasaranga then came to the crease.
In the 19th over of the innings, Naveen-ul-Haq bowled Rajapaksa who had scored 31 runs in 14 balls, but it was too late for Afghanistan. Chamika Karunaratne then came to the crease with Sri Lanka needing one run in eight balls. Karunaratne then slammed a brilliant four to the long-off to guide his team home with four wickets victory over Afghanistan.
Earlier put to bat first, Rahmanullah Gurbaz played a swashbuckling knock of 84 runs while Ibrahim Zadran scored 40 as Afghanistan went on to post a total of 175 for six in 20 overs.
Brief score: Afghanistan 175/6 (Rahmanullah Gurbaz 84, Ibrahim Zadran 40; Dilshan Madushanka 2-37) vs Sri Lanka 179/6 (Kusal Mendis 36, Bhanuka Rajapaksa 31; Mujeeb Ur Rahman 2-30).