Asia Cup 2023: Sri Lanka defeats Afghanistan and qualifies for Super Fours

Sri Lanka defeated Afghanistan in a cliffhanger to qualify for the Super Fours. Sri Lanka along with Bangladesh qualified from Group B.

The last group-stage match of Asia Cup 2023 concluded with Sri Lanka qualifying for Super Fours.  Sri Lanka beat Afghanistan by 2 runs. Here is a quick recap of the second innings.

Kasun Rajitha gives early breakthrough to Sri Lanka

Afghanistan desperately needed a good start to chase Sri Lanka’s 291 in just 37.1 overs. Right-arm fast bowler Kasun Rajitha gave Sri Lanka a dream start as he took two wickets inside the first five overs. Rahmanullah Gurbaz who was considered to be a crucial player for Afghanistan to chase this total was dismissed for just 4 runs in 8 balls. Gurbaz’s opening partner, Ibrahim Zadran too could not make a huge mark in the game as he was dismissed for 7 runs in 14 balls. Afghanistan’s first-innings hero, Gulbadin Naib played a quickfire cameo of 22 runs in 16 balls but was dismissed inside the powerplay by Matheesha Pathirana. 


Rahmat Shah and Hashmatullah keep Afghanistan in the chase

After losing three wickets with just 50 runs on the board skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi and Rahmat Shah got together to score runs at a quick pace. Both the batters went along with a strike rate of slightly better than run-a-ball. Rahmat played the aggressor role before being dismissed. He scored 45 runs off just 40 balls in a knock that consisted of 5 fours and 1 six. Shahidi on the other hand contributed 37 runs in 34 balls in the 71-run stand for the fourth wicket.

Nabi smashes the fastest ODI fifty for Afghanistan

When Mohammad Nabi came into bat, Afghanistan was slowly moving towards the target but looked in no position to chase the total in 37.1 overs. The 80-run stand that he shared with Shahidi did not just get back Afghanistan into the chase but also got them ahead for the first time in the second innings. Nabi scored 65 runs in just 32 balls hitting 6 fours and 5 sixes. The 38-year-old in an attempt to get his team into the Super Fours smashed Afghanistan’s fastest ODI fifty in just 24 balls. This was his 16th ODI fifty but probably ranks in the top three if not the best. During Nabi’s time at the crease, Shahidi played the perfect partner to him as he rotated the strike efficiently and ensured Nabi faced as many balls as possible. Shahidi scored 11 runs off 15 balls in the 80-run stand. Nabi was dismissed by Maheesh Theekshana as he was caught at long-on.

Wellalage’s double strike in one over hurt Afghanistan’s chase

Dunith Wellalge after scoring some crucial runs in the first innings was expensive with the ball in hand at first. In his first two overs, he conceded 20 runs. He was brought back by captain Dasun Shanaka in the 38th over which proved to be a great move. Wellalage struck twice in his third over and took the wickets of Karim Janat and Shahidi. Janat was playing a great knock and had already scored 22 runs in 13 and Shahidi was the set batter after scoring 59 runs in 66 balls. 

Rashid and Najibullah almost do it for Afghanistan

Afghanistan needed 55 runs in 32 balls when Najibullah Zadran and Rashid Khan came in to bat. Najibullah scored a crucial knock of 23 runs in 15 balls before being dismissed in the penultimate over (36th over in this case). Rashid scored 27 runs off just 16 balls but his cameo wasn’t enough as Dhananjaya de Silva dismissed Mujeeb ur Rahman and Fazalhaq Farooqi in the 38th over.

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