Sri Lanka rout Afghanistan amid nervous moments
DUNEDIN (Pajhwok): Sri Lanka narrowly survived nervous moments as Thisara Perera and Jeevan Mendis combined for a 58-run partnership to give Sri Lanka a four-wicket victory over Afghanistan in their World Cup Pool-A match at University Oval in Dunedin.
A brilliant century by Mahela Jayawardene navigated Sri Lanka from a horror start as they chased 233 on Sunday.
Jayawardene's dismissal for 100 left his side at 6-178 and opened the door again for Afghanistan, but Thisara Perera closed it with some big hitting.
The all-rounder scored an unbeaten 47 off 26 balls as Sri Lanka reached 6-236 with 10 balls to spare.
Victory was important for the former champions after their 98-run defeat to New Zealand in the tournament opener last weekend.
But after allowing Afghanistan to post 232, they were 3-18 with both openers and top batsman Kumar Sangakkara back in the pavilion. Lahiru Thirimanne and Tillakaratne Dilshan each went for a first-ball duck to leave their side reeling at 2-2.
When Hassan, playing his 26th ODI, had Dimuth Karunaratne caught in the slips for 23, he became the quickest among bowlers from an ICC associate nation to 50 wickets.
At 4-51, skipper Angelo Mathews joined Jayawardene in the middle. The pair shared in a 126-run stand, before Mathews was run out from a Mohammad Nabi direct hit for 44.
But having reached three figures, the 37-year-old right-hander lobbed a Hassan delivery to third man. The impressive Hassan ended with 3-45 from his nine overs.
Earlier, Afghanistan's batsmen took a positive approach after Sri Lanka won the toss. Their innings was build on an 88-run third-wicket partnership between Asghar Stanikzai and Samiulla Shenwari.
Stanikzai hit six boundaries, including a six, but having to get to 54, he holed out in the deep. Shenwari reached 38 before offering a catch to mid-off.
Afghanistan's momentum then stalled in the second batting power play. During the five-over spell, they added just 10 runs, half of them extras, for the loss of skipper Nabi for 21 and Najibullah Zadran for 10, both going for the big hit.
Mathews and strike bowler Lasith Malinga both picked up a couple of late scalps to finish each with 3-41.
Sri Lanka captian Angelo Mathews said that “we are feeling a bit of relief [at the moment]. Thought we came back well after going down with a lot of pressure.”
Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi said that the first 30 overs after the 15-over power play his team didn't play well.
“I felt we were short by 30-40 runs. We bowled really well in those first 10-15 overs, putting pressure on them in the end. We also missed out on a few run outs, but we definitely kept them to a tight game, so we are pleased.”
Praising the performance of his rival team, Mahela Jayawardene, man of the match acknowledged that “all credit goes to Afghanistan. Thought they batted really well in tough conditions, then followed it up beautifully with the ball. So feeling really relieved in the end to get over the line. They have the pace, the movement, and they are a handful.”
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