Pakistan chase gave us a lot of confidence and belief that we can chase any kind of target: Hashmatullah Shahidi
Afghanistan’s bowlers set the stage for this victory by stifling Sri Lanka’s batters on a deck that was almost designed for batting, allowing their batters to easily reach the target while the backbone of their chase was created by the partnerships of 73, 58, and 111, which were between Ibrahim Zadran and Shah, Shah and Shahidi, and Shahidi and Omarzai.
Afghanistan had won the toss and decided to bowl first. Sure, Kusal Perera hadn’t done much other than hitting 78 against Australia, but this kind of surface could have been the exact cure for his batting problems.
Rather than being pleased with his replacement, Karunaratne left Sri Lanka dissatisfied as he played and missed a few shortish, wide deliveries on either side of the wicket – rare loose balls in generally tight opening spells from Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Fazalhaq Farooqi. In the first 10 overs, Sri Lanka would manage to hit just four boundaries.
In addition, Sri Lanka finished the power play at 41 for 1, their lowest score in the whole competition after 10 overs. They would suffer from this obvious lack of desire for success for the entirety of an innings that barely cracked the five-over mark, let alone the sixes and sevens that have been more common throughout this tournament.
When contrasted with Sri Lanka’s attitude during the opening two games against Pakistan and South Africa, the respect shown to the Afghanistan bowlers throughout the middle overs was incongruous, to say the least
The first to fall was Karunaratne, who was trapped lbw by a ball that darted in from Farooqi. The on-field not out call was reversed upon review. After a 62-run partnership between Nissanka and Mendis, Omarzai chipped in from a length outside off to persuade Nissanka to chip an edge through to Gurbaz behind the stumps, breaking his streak of fifty-plus scores at four.
Gurbaz was filling in for Ikram Alikhil, who was receiving treatment off the pitch after dislocating a finger while keeping.
As he attempted to complete his preferred slog sweep for the fourth time in four games, Kusal Mendis was the next to fall. He would have been disappointed to see the man set up for precisely this kind of stroke, but perhaps more startling to spectators was the reserved Mendis who, just a few hours earlier, had struck 39 off 49 deliveries; like the rest of his teammates, Mendis was constrained by a subdued style in an innings that saw just three boundaries.
After a 50-run partnership with Sadeera Samarawickrama, Mendis’ removal would prove to be the impetus for a mini-collapse that saw Sri Lanka fall from 134 for 2 to 185 for 7.
With a quicker one from Mujeeb that tailed in, Samarawickrama, who had looked his usual diligent self in his 40-ball 36, was caught in the crease.
Following a nagging over in Rashid’s 100th ODI, Dhananjaya de Silva, who had scored 28 alongside Charith Asalanka, was then elegantly worked over by a Rashid googly through the gate.
Shortly after off Farooqi, Asalanka would misjudge a pull to mid-off, and Dushmantha Chameera would be removed following a chaotic and needless run-out, with Angelo Mathews calling for a run that would have kept him off strike for the beginning of the next over.
Sri Lanka only managed a respectable score thanks to a late-inning stand of 45 from 42 between Mathews and Maheesh Theekshana, where the latter displayed his batting prowess with some expansive stroke-play through the offside. However, on a true surface, and when facing a formidable Afghanistan team, it would never be sufficient.
While Afghanistan was simply adhering to the breakdown that head coach Jonathan Trott had designed for them, Sri Lanka might be criticized for their criminal lack of intent.
The broadcast camera would repeatedly move over his enormous whiteboard during the inning, which had 10-over markers neatly arranged with phrases like “50 after 10,” “100 after 20,” and so forth. But because Afghanistan carried out its task with such efficiency, even if it was presented in an approachable way, Sri Lanka was unable to take any action.
Afghanistan had their script and they followed it to a tee. Sure, Dilshan Madushanka tailed one in on Rahmanullah Gurbaz from just the fourth ball of the chase to remove a middle stump. Afghanistan quickly put an end to whatever momentum Sri Lanka might have been hoping to gain, even when the wickets did fall.
The backbone of their chase was created by the partnerships of 73, 58, and 111, which were between Ibrahim Zadran and Shah, Shah and Shahidi, and Shahidi and Omarzai.
They were happy to wait for loose balls and infrequently needed or wanted to take a chance, thus boundaries were never sought after and just accepted when offered throughout that attempt.
Afghanistan’s bowlers set the stage for this victory by stifling Sri Lanka’s batters on a deck that was almost designed for batting, allowing their batters to easily reach the target.
Kusal Mendis, Sri Lanka Captain:
“Little bit short of runs, 240 not enough on this pitch, 280-300 would have been a good score. Our bowlers did well in the first 10 overs, dew came in and it became hard to bowl later. Ball was coming good on the bat in the second innings; Madushanka has done well, young guy…going forward (he will get better)”
Hashmatullah Shahidi, Afghanistan Captain:
“Quite happy and proud of the team…the way we performed in all departments. Pakistan chase gave us a lot of confidence and belief that we can chase any kind of target. We started well in bowling; the chase was very professional and I am very happy about it. Coaches are always positive; we worked very hard before the World Cup. Also, right now all the coaching and management staff are working hard and giving us confidence, before the Pakistan game, the coach’s words changed my mind set a lot. As a captain you should lead from the front foot so I am trying my best, I am very happy that i finished the game and I will try to maintain that in upcoming games. Rashid Khan is the best player and he is a very energetic guy so the team is full of energy around him. I want to congratulate to our nation and I thank the Indian people for supporting us and coming to the stadiums.”
Fazalhaq Farooqi, Player of the Match:
“(Rashid Khan translating) It feels pretty good, we have three wins in the tournament, happy to contribute and win the game. I looked for swing early on but didn’t get it so then I kept it simple and hit the right areas and that was the plan for the spell and I got success in it. We struggled in the past in the last overs…gave away too many runs but we bowled with variations today and the hard work in net sessions helped, a couple of days rest also worked in our favor. We tried to bowl as many variations as possible.”