As Sri Lanka concludes the series, Dushmantha Chameera’s four wickets lead the bowlers’ celebration

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Dushmantha Chameera had an ending result of 4 for 63

After the spinners took care of the lower order and Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara destroyed Afghanistan’s top order, Sri Lanka’s top three quickly reached the target of 117 runs in 16 overs. 

Considering they lost the opening game of this series, it wasn’t much of a warm-up for the World Cup Qualifier, which kicks off on June 19. Despite this, Sri Lanka will feel more confident after the manner in which they ended the series.

After only recently returning to international competition after an extensive injury layoff during the previous match on Sunday, Chameera, their key ODI bowler, finishes this series with wickets to his credit. 

After an even lengthier layoff, Dimuth Karunaratne has returned to the field and has now made 56 runs without being out. He now has two consecutive fifties to his name. Pathum Nissanka also had a solid 51 off 34 balls, which is encouraging.

Similar to the previous game, the bowlers in this one were the ones who laid the groundwork for the decisive victory. The best of them was Chameera, who took 4 for 63, with many of those runs coming off edges to the boundary as he quickly extracted strong bounce from the surface. Despite the unfavorable bowling surface, he frequently got the ball to jag, especially into the right-handers.

Before Wanindu Hasaranga delivered blows lower in the order to collect 3 for 7, Kumara secured the crucial wickets of the openers to end with 2 for 29. Taking the other wicket was Maheesh Theekshana. Overall, Sri Lanka only needed 22.2 overs to dismiss the opponents. Mohammad Nabi led Afghanistan with a score of 23, and six of their batsmen failed to reach double figures.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz was caught hooking at fine leg by Kumara, who had the opening wicket fall in the second over. Then, in the fifth over, Chameera achieved two breakthroughs by taking advantage of some surface movement to have Rahmat Shah and Hashmatullah Shahidi both caught by the wicketkeeper – Shahidi edging one that went down the legside.

When Kumara bowled a beautiful inducker that pitched just outside off, jagged in to pass between bat and pad, and rocked the stumps, he took the big wicket of Ibrahim Zadran, turning the shaky start into a full-fledged collapse. In the ninth over, Afghanistan had 48 for 4 after Ibrahim was out for 22. Ibrahim lost for fewer than 50 for just the second time in six straight games against Sri Lanka.

The innings’ final over was bowled by Chameera, who made his second appearance but was unfortunate to just pick up one wicket. In the first delivery, Mohammad Nabi edged the ball just over slip for four; in the second, Nabi was dropped by backward point, who got hands to a shin-high opportunity before grassing it; and in the third, Najibullah Zadran edged the ball towards slip, but it sailed short and burst through the fielder’s hands to reach the boundary.

The fourth ball, however, was when Chameera finally struck it lucky. Zadran attempted to play a length ball Chameera seamed on the stumps to the leg side, but instead was only able to deliver a leading edge to point, which was this time easily held. Nabi would then be the target of Chameera’s next attack, as she sewed it in to strike him above the knee roll on the front leg. The batsman reviewed the out call, although it was anticipated that the ball would strike the top of the leg stump.

Hasaranga was the most successful spinner, taking two of his three wickets with the legbreak. Rashid Khan, who was playing in his first game of the series, was removed in the opening one when the batter missed a sweep to be hit in front of the stumps. Fazalhaq Farooqi was the last to depart after being LBW to the googly by Mujeeb Ur Rahman after he edged a Hasaranga delivery to the wicketkeeper.

The quest was simple yet quick. Nissanka started to move in the second over when he hit two consecutive square boundaries off Fareed Ahmad, one on either side of the wicket. In the fourth over, Nissanka continued to be aggressive, hitting Mujeeb for six over midwicket before cutting him through point with the subsequent delivery for four. Despite Karunaratne’s luck, Sri Lanka was 41 for no loss after five overs thanks to Rashid’s failure to hold a difficult overhead catch at square leg.

Nissanka, though, continued in destroying Afghanistan, smashing another six over midwicket off Farooqi on the way to a 32-ball fifty that was achieved in the ninth over. After the powerplay ended, he was bowled by Gulbadin Naib with the first delivery, but because of him, Sri Lanka made 84 in the first 10 overs. In the 15th over, Karunaratne finished off his ninth ODI half century while cruising to the target alongside Kusal Mendis.