Sri Lanka bowled first after winning the toss and held Afghanistan to 175 for 6 despite Rahmanullah Gurbaz’s 45-ball 84. There was no big contribution from Sri Lanka in the chase. However, handy 30s from four batters and an unbeaten cameo from Wanindu Hasaranga ensured they got over the line.
Afghanistan were still in with a chance going into the last five overs. Sri Lanka needed 49 runs with six wickets in hand. Bhanuka Rajapaksa then clobbered the first three balls of the 16th over from Naveen-ul-Haq for 4,4,6. The over ended in equally eventful fashion as the batter was dropped at deep cover.
Hasaranga then smashed Fazalhaq Farooqi for two fours in the 18th over as the equation came down to eight runs off 12 balls. Though Rajapaksa (31 off 14) was cleaned up by a Naveen-ul-Haq slower ball in the penultimate over, he had put Sri Lanka firmly in control. Chamika Karunaratne (5*) sealed victory for the Lankans, driving a wide full toss from Farooqi over mid-off for four.
Sri Lanka got off to a confident start in the chase, reaching 57 for no loss at the end of the powerplay. Kusal Mendis (36 off 19) made a statement of intent, slamming the last two balls of the sixth over bowled by Rashid Khan for sixes. Naveen-ul-Haq dismissed Mendis with a short ball, but Sri Lanka’s chase was well and truly in motion.
Pathum Nissanka contributed an efficient 35 off 28 before being caught behind off Mujeeb Ur Rahman. Afghanistan skipper Mohammad Nabi gave his team some hope, dismissing Charith Asalanka for 8. The batter was bowled as he inside-edged a slog sweep. His dismissal left the chasing side in a spot of bother at 94 for 3.
Mujeeb had his second when Najibullah Zadran did a fine balancing act on the ropes and took a smart catch to send Dasun Shanaka on his way for 10. Danushka Gunathilaka batted well for his 33 before being bowled by Rashid as he missed his sweep. There was no twist in the tale though as Rajapaksa and Hasaranga ensured victory for the Lankans.
Sri Lanka fight back to restrict Afghanistan to 175 for 6 after Rahmanullah Gurbaz’s rapid 84
Batting first, Afghanistan opener Gurbaz hammered a scintillating 84. However, Sri Lanka fought back well towards the end to restrict the batting side to 175 for 6. Afghanistan were 138 for 1 at the end of 15 overs. But, they lost five wickets for the addition of only 37 runs in the last five overs.
Gurbaz was completely dominant over the Sri Lankan bowlers. He thumped Maheesh Theekshana for consecutive sixes in the third over. The second maximum was initially declared caught, but replays showed that the fielder on the boundary, Gunathilaka, had touched the ropes.
Even as Gurbaz was going hammer and tongs at one end, Hazratullah Zazai struggled for fluency. His misery ended when he was bowled by Dilshan Madushanka for 13 off 16 as he missed a slog. Unaffected by the dismissal, Gurbaz carried on attacking and even slog-swept Hasaranga for a six over deep midwicket. The aggressive youngster raced to his fifty in only 22 balls.
The Afghanistan opener found good support from Ibrahim Zadran, who contributed a steady 40 from 38 balls. The second-wicket stand of 96 was broken when Gurbaz top-edged a heave off Asitha Fernando to deep midwicket. Ibrahim then scooped Madushanka to short fine leg.
Nabi (1), Najibullah Zadran (17) and Rashid (9) all fell cheaply looking for quick runs as Afghanistan failed to get the final flourish.
SL vs AFG 2022: Who was Player of the Match in Sri Lanka vs Afghanistan T20I?
Gurbaz was superb for Afghanistan, slamming four fours and six sixes in his 45-ball 84. With the ball, Mujeeb impressed with 2 for 30.
For Sri Lanka, Mendis and Rajapaksa scored quickfire 30s. Theekshana (1/29), Hasaranga (0/23) were economical, while Madushanka claimed two wickets.
Despite ending up on the losing side, Gurbaz was named Player of the Match for his spectacular big-hitting.