Ibrahim Zadran’s 98 helped Afghanistan go up 1-0
Afghanistan tour of Sri Lanka 2023 (First ODI)
Ibrahim Zadran’s 98 runs helped Afghanistan stun Sri Lanka as the visitors recorded a dominant six-wicket win in the first ODI match at Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium, Hambantota on Friday.
Thanks to Charith Asalanka top knock of 91 runs saw a new-look Sri Lanka team blend with experienced players who posted 268 runs in their allotted 50 overs.
In reply, the travelling Afghanistan team easily chased the target riding from a brilliant cameo by opener Ibrahim Zadran.
After inviting Sri Lanka to bat first
a new opening pair-veteran batter Dimuth Karunaratne who returned to ODI cricket after two years opened the innings along with Pathum Nissanka.
But the partnership was short-lived when the Dimuth was caught at second slip off Fazalhaq Farooqi’s delivery in the third over.
Sri Lanka also lost in-form wicketkeeper batter Kusal Mendis on just 11 runs to pin them further down.
Nissanka scored crucial 38 runs to keep the scoreboard moving.
Out of form Sri Lankan top order was once again visible when they were struggling at 60-4.
The host failed to form any meaningful partnerships apart from Charith Asalanka and Dhanajaya de Silva who produced a 99-run stand for the fifth wicket to help Sri Lanka post a fighting total.
Asalanka scored 91 off 95 while Dhananjaya added 51 runs as Sri Lanka’s innings collapsed to 268 runs in 50 overs.
Skipper Dasun Shanaka once again failed to live up to the expectation as he failed to impress with the bat again.
In reply, the visitors followed a similar script when they lost their wicketkeeper batter Rahmanullah Gurbaz in the sixth over when Lahiru Kumara bowled out the opener with a peach of a delivery.
However, despite a decent start the hosts failed to capitalize on that where Zadran and Rahmat Shah pulled off a 146-run partnership for the second wicket to virtually seal the match for Afghanistan.
Towards the end of the innings, Matheesha Pathirana picked his maiden international wicket in the form of Rahmat Shah who scored 55 runs but endured a costly spell on his debut.
Zadran missed out on his fourth ODI ton by just two runs as he was dismissed by Kasun Rajitha in the 37th over. But his knock had put Afghanistan in a comfortable position to win the game.
Sri Lanka bowlers had a day to forget as they had a torrid time in the middle finding good lines and lengths. None of the bowlers stepped up to impress as all of them were smashed all over the park to end the quota of overs on an expensive note.
Zadran won the Player of the Match award as Afghanistan recorded an easy win.
Afghanistan played without their ace spinner Rashid Khan who was ruled out of the first two games with a back injury while the hosts handed international debuts to pacer Matheesha Pathiran and leg spinner Dushan Hemantha.
After the three-match ODI series against Afghanistan, Sri Lanka will travel to Zimbabwe for the World Cup 2023 Qualifiers starting on June 18. The two teams will next meet on June 4 for the second ODI at the same venue.