Sri Lanka 308 for 6 (Asalanka 97*, Mendis 61, Omarzai 3-56) beat Afghanistan 153 (Rahmat 63, Ibrahim 54, Hasaranga 4-27) by 155 runs
Sri Lanka’s middle order led by Charith Asalanka piled on a second successive 300-plus total, helping them secure a 155-run win in the second ODI in Pallekele. Afghanistan imploded in their chase to lose the three-match series with a game to go.
Chasing 309, Afghanistan had seemingly set themselves up well for a late charge, particularly when Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmat Shah were in the middle of their 97-run second wicket stand. But once Asitha Fernando had Ibrahim strangled down leg, the Afghan innings went into freefall. They lost their next eight wickets for just 25 runs as Sri Lanka brought the innings to a close inside 34 overs.
Wanindu Hasaranga grabbed figures of 4 for 27, while Asitha – playing his first ODI in over a year – and Dilshan Madushanka had two apiece. Pramod Madushan too finished with one to his name.
Afghanistan have shown in the past that their tried and tested method for chasing large totals is to take the game deep, and that plan was clear from the get-go. Neither Rahmanullah Gurbaz nor Ibrahim took it upon themselves to go after the bowling early on – a large part of which was down to the tight lines and lengths of the Lankan seamers. Asitha got one to seam away just enough to catch the edge of Gurbaz for an uncharacteristically subdued 8 off 20.
Ibrahim and Rahmat then put on the only real partnership of the innings, but they too struggled to keep up with the required rate. Once Ibrahim fell in the 27th over, the required rate went above 7.5 an over – still quite gettable. However, Hasaranga struck twice within the space of an over. He trapped Rahmat leg before with a googly, and then bowled Hashmatullah Shahidi through the gate after he had failed to get to the pitch of a leg break. That is when the wheels began to come off.
Azmatullah Omarzai, who scored a century in the opening game, inside-edged a fullish one from Madushan onto the stumps via his pads. Hasaranga then produced his second double-wicket over of the game. The first to go was Mohammad Nabi, the other centurion from Friday, missing the forward defence to a top spinner, before Ikram Alikhil was run-out after some great work at backward square leg.
Madushanka then bowled the third double-wicket over of the innings, having Qais Ahmed caught at deep square leg and then trapping Noor Ahmad lbw first ball. Hasaranga then wrapped up the innings, dismissing Gulbadin Naib lbw, as Afghanistan lost their last eight wickets in the span of five overs.
Sri Lanka too lost wickets in pairs in their innings, but crucially consolidated and rebuilt after each of those setbacks. What that meant was four of their batters scored fifties and pushed them up to 308 for 6 having elected to bat first. Asalanka put on the finishing touches on a slow burn outing, ending unbeaten on a 74-ball 97. It was his stand of 50 from 32 alongside Hasaranga that pushed Sri Lanka’s total beyond 300 – a good recovery after Afghanistan had looked to throttle the middle overs.
Along with Asalanka, Kusal Mendis, Sadeera SamarawickramaJanith Liyanage all struck fifties. A pair of century partnerships – the first between Mendis and Samarawickrama and the second between Liyanage and Asalanka – anchored the innings before the Asalanka-Hasaranga alliance helped Sri Lanka score 96 in the last ten overs.
Omarzai was the pick of the Afghan bowlers with figures of 3 for 56, but three catches were dropped off Fazalhaq Farooqi’s bowling. Farooqi along with Noor Ahmad and Qais Ahmad ended up with a wicket apiece.
After Sri Lanka elected to bat, Nissanka looked in good touch, striking three boundaries in his 17-ball 18. But his onslaught was cut short when he missed a full and straight one from Omarzai to be out lbw. An out-of-sorts Avishka Fernando fell a few overs later, edging a back-of-a-length ball angling across, straight to point – reminiscent of his three dismissals in the recent series against Zimbabwe. This brought together Mendis and Samarawickrama, who rebuilt with boundaries only serving as an avenue to release the rising pressure. Mendis was also given an early reprieve, a soft chance spilled by Gulbadin Naib at short midwicket.
But just as they looked to up the scoring, Samarawickrama lobbed one to mid-off stationed on the edge of the circle. Mendis soon pulled one straight to deep square leg the very next over. Asalanka and Liyanage then rebuilt before switching gears. The latter brought up his fifty with a lofted six down the ground but fell one ball later, caught at long-on looking to go big once more.
Afghanistan didn’t do themselves many favours in the death overs, dropping both Asalanka and Hasaranga. This meant Asalanka was around to ensure Sri Lanka had a competitive total to defend, something they did with ease in the end.