Afghanistan and Sri Lanka clashed for the second time within 24 hours on the international stage. The brave Afghans have been a revelation in the past decade with their fearless brand of cricket and crafty spin bowling. Sri Lankan cricket has seen better days in the past and the journey towards getting back to the glorious past continues. ZIUT Cricket Field Hangzhou was the venue for this Asian battle for supremacy.
Both sides fielded strong lineups with recognized international names. up and down the list.
- Sediqullah Atal 2. Mohammad Shahzad (WK) 3. Noor Ali 4. Shahidullah 5. Gulbadin Naib (Cap.) 6. Karim Janat 7. Sharafuddin Ashraf 8. Afsar Zazai 9. Qais Ahmed 10. Fareed Ahmed 11. Zahir Khan
- Shevon Daniel 2. Lasith Croospulle 3. Nuwanidu Fernando 4. Sahan Arachchige 5. Ashen Bandara 6. Lahiru Udara (WK) 7. Ravindu Fernando 8. Lahiru Samarakoon 9. Vijayakanth Viyaskanth 10. Nimesh Vimukthi 11. Nuwan Thushara
Sri Lankan skipper Arachchige won the toss and invited the Afghans to bat first.
Captaincy & Tactics
The Sri Lankan pace bowlers were using the bounce of the pitch well. The pitch map shows 38% of all deliveries within the first four overs pitched on the short length. They also used spin bowling to stifle the flow of runs.
The Afghanis won the game by flexing their spine muscles. They deployed all the weapons in their arsenal to keep things under control. The good length bowling just around the off stump was the key factor to their success.
The Afghani top order did not provide a solid foundation for the middle overs. The duty fell on the shoulders of Noor Ali Zadran who batted with grace and poise. He used his feet well and dispatched the ball regularly to the boundaries. His fifty helped the Afghani score to get past a respectable figure. Shahidullah also provided some late fireworks with two sixes and two fours.
Sri Lanka started really well and they were ahead of the asking rate within the first overs. But a spectacular collapse ensued with wayward shots. Sahan Sarachchige was the lone warrior for the Lankan lions. The skipper maneuvered the ball down the ground to rotate the strike. His run-out ended all hopes for Sri Lanka.
Nuwan Thushara bowled at a rapid pace on a bouncy track. The pacer was especially lethal against the left-handers with just 6 runs from just 11 balls. Samarakoon was also economical with just 10 runs conceded from three overs. The uneven bounce of the wicket helped both the pacers and the spinners. The finger spin of Arachchige also came in handy to contain runs.
Qais Ahmed bowled all kinds of deliveries – googlies, leg breaks, stock balls. The leg spinner was constantly challenging the mettle of the Lankan batsmen and they failed to provide any answer to his brilliance. Former international captain Gulabadin Naib was also accurate in hitting the right lengths. The bowlers were impeccable in finding the right spots as a staggering 67% of their deliveries pitched on good length zones. This was a bowling exhibition of the highest order.
Both teams fielded well by saving boundaries and taking some good catches near the boundary line. The boundaries were quite short compared to the other international grounds, so the fielding had to be razor-sharp to stop the flow of boundaries. Sahan Archchige’s run out Shahidullah was the ultimate different maker in a tight game.
Nuwan Thusara shone with the ball to pick up four wickets. The right arm quick with a Malingaesque action peppered the Afghani batters with bouncers and stock balls. Sahan Archchige also had a significant contribution with two scalps. Noor Ali Zadran posted an assured fifty to help his team past the 110 mark.
Qais Ahmed is a consistent performer for Afghanistan in the shorter version of the game and his variations bamboozled the batsmen. Zahir was also frugal with his bowling and did not give any room to the batsmen. Seasoned veteran Gulbadin Naib exerted control with some brilliant deliveries and ended the day with a figure of 3 for 28. All the Sri Lankan batters failed except for the skipper Archchige who exhibited remarkable resistance.
Sri Lankans started moderately well but the innings began to collapse after the tenth over. Skipper Sahan Archchige was batting at one end and trying his level best to stop his rot. His defiant innings of 29 was keeping the Lankan hopes alive. But disaster struck on the 3rd ball of the 15th over. A comical misunderstanding led to the run out of Arachchige. Sri Lanka never recovered from that and in the end, fell short by 8 runs.
Afghanistan won the exciting game of cricket by 8 runs
Player of the Match
Qais Ahmed won the unofficial Man of the Match award with his dazzling display of wrist spin bowling
|Afghanistan Total: 116/10 (18.3 overs)||Sri Lanka Total: 108/10 (19.1 overs)|
|Noor Ali 51 (52)||Sahan Arachchige 22 (29)|
|Shahidullah 23 (14)||Lasith Croospulle 16 (12)|
|Nuwan Thushara 4/17||Qais Ahmed 3/16|
|Sahan Archchige 2/26||Gulbadin Naib 3/28|
Afghanistan are through to the semi-finals with a fabulous all-around performance. Sri Lanka was still in contention throughout the game but in the end, the compact bowling of the opponents was too strong for them. This is the second defeat within 24 hours for the Sri Lankans in the hands of Afghanistan. The focus shifts to the World Cup as the national team faces Pakistan on Friday for their first outing in the World Cup 2023.