SL vs AFG 3rd ODI: Sri Lanka 314 for 6 (Asalanka 83*, Mendis 67, Rashid 4-37, Nabi 2-56) beat Afghanistan 313 for 8 (Ibrahim 162, Najibullah 77, Rajitha 3-60) by four wickets
While Asalanka, with assistance from Dasun Shanaka and Dunith Wellalage, provided Sri Lanka with the roaring finish they required, Kusal Mendis provided the initial impetus, scoring 67 off 61 balls in an opening stand worth 101 with Pathum Nissanka. Their efforts were better than Ibrahim Zadran’s epic 162 runs off 138 balls, which was easily the highest ODI score ever scored by an Afghanistan batsman.
Mohammad Shahzad’s 131 runs without scoring against Zimbabwe was the former best. He and Najibullah Zadran combined for 154 runs off 141 balls to rescue Afghanistan from a precarious 57 for 3 and put them in a strong position. His innings were the backbone of the team’s batting. That partnership was Afghanistan’s best ever for the fourth wicket, and they finished with 87 runs in their last 10 overs, 56 of which came from Ibrahim. However, Sri Lanka’s 297-run victory over Zimbabwe at Pallekele was the most recent successful chase, and it was completed with two balls to spare.
In addition to Asalanka, Wellalage, who scored 31 runs off 21, helped Sri Lanka advance through the final stages. Together the pair put on an unbeaten 65 runs off only 39 balls for the seventh wicket. When they came together, Sri Lanka needed to score at well over nine runs per over, and this was essentially the last known pair. As a result, this is essentially the partnership that sealed the match for Sri Lanka. Asalanka smoked the bowler over long-on with two sixes off Mujeeb Ur Rahman in the 45th over, signaling Sri Lanka’s charge.Even though Rashid Khan bowled the 47th over for just three runs and Sri Lanka needed 37 runs off the last 18 balls, Wellalage found his batting rhythm and relieved Asalanka of the burden in the final few overs.
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He struck three fours in the next over, bowled by Gulbadin Naib, scooping Fazalhaq Farooqi over fine leg, slapping him through fine leg, and then tonking him down the ground, ending the 48th over. Farooqi bowled the final over, giving Sri Lanka 13 runs, and every batter hit a six. The shot that Wellalage fired was over cow corner, and a Rashid running full speed to his left missed it. Farooqi insisted on going short rather than full in the final over, so Asalanka’s was over deep square leg. Asalanka finished his innings with five fours and four sixes and had probably been cramped for the last third of his innings.
Mendis had been pushing Sri Lanka above the required rate earlier, and he had continued to be effective on the legside. He scored nearly two-thirds of his runs after the wicket. In all, he made eight fours and one six. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, had Afghanistan under control even earlier in the game. After 14.1 overs, the visitors were down to 57 for 3 at one point. However, Ibrahim and Najibullah meticulously rebuilt before transitioning to accumulation mode in the early middle overs and then exploding as the end drew nearer.
Najibullah only hit two fours in 55 balls of his innings. He hit six fours and one six in the next 21 balls before being out in the 38th over. After Najibullah was fired, the scoring rate did not decrease. Having finished his hundred, Ibrahim took a firmer grasp of the reins and fashioned useful organizations with Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, and Noor Ahmad.
By the end, his runs were all over the wicket. After hitting 15 fours and four sixes, he was run out on the final pitch of the innings. Sri Lanka earns ten Super League points, putting them at 77 overall and still in ninth place. In the League, they only have to play three more games. At the moment, Afghanistan is ranked seventh.