Afghanistan created a name for themselves in Asia Cup after they eliminated five-time champions Sri Lanka from the tournament yesterday. With a 91-run win got Afghanistan the recognition it needed at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium. For Sri Lanka, it is not such good news as they became the fourth Test-playing nation to have lost against Afghanistan in ODI history.
Afghanistan gave a target of 250 to Sri Lanka for the chase, but the opponents never seemed to be on their feet against the Afghan spinners. None of the batsmen were able to keep the hopes alive and the team was reduced for 158 in 41.2 overs.
Sri Lanka looked weak from the very beginning when Kusal Mednis was sent back to the pavilion by the spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman (2/32) who trapped him for an LBW.
Following the initial loss, Dhananjaya de Silva and Upul Tharanga gave some relief to the team but a misunderstanding resulted in De Silva’s dismissal for a runout for 23. Till then the duo has added 54 runs to the total score.
Star bowler for Afghanistan, Rashid Khan was not called till the 20th over, but as soon as he was on the ground he made an impact by clinching wicket of Kusal Perera in his first over. Upul Tharanga was able to contribute 36 runs, highest of the inning before he was run out and Sri Lanka lost half of its batting lineup for just 108.
Afghan bowlers were threatening the Lankans, but skipper Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera kept the hopes alive for them, but the dismissal of Mathews in 35th over, sealed the loss for Sri Lanka. Rashid Khan and Gulbadin Naib got rid of the lower order batsmen pretty quick.
For Afghanistan, the 50 from Rahmat Shah was the inning that led Afghanistan to a competitive score of 249. Mohammad Shahzad and Ihsanullah Janat gave a solid start to the team opening in the match. Shahzad was easily taking on Lasith Malinga and Dushmantha Chameera, the Lankan new bowlers. He was caught lbw on delivery by Dananjaya for 34. Following his dismissal, Ihsanullah was patient with his game and played a comfortable inning with Rahmat.
It would have been a half-century for Ihsanullah too but Dananjaya did not allow it and dismissed him for 45. Skipper Asghar joined in next but was sent back cheaply, then Hashmatullah Shahidi joined Rahmat to take innings further.
Rahmat was the star batsman for Afghanistan scoring 72 off 90.
The win has boosted the morale of Afghanistan and it will interesting to see how the team fairs against other opponents.