Images from the ICC World Cup match between Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, in Pune, on Monday.
Afghanistan pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi made a huge statement by unleashing his full fury to grab four wickets as underwhelming Sri Lanka batters struggled to a below-par 241 all out on an easy-paced pitch in a crucial World Cup match in Pune on Monday.
While left-armer Farooqi’s (4/34) fiery pace made life difficult for the Lankans, Afghanistan spinners Mujeeb Ur Rahman (2/38) and Rashid Khan (1/50) showed the right intent and energy to create pressure and restrict in-form batters like Pathum Nissanka and Sadeera Samarawickrama.
After being asked to bat first, Sri Lanka’s batting never got going as Farooqi, Mujeeb and Rashid, playing his 100th ODI, bowled tight lengths and varied pace despite them getting little assistance from the MCA Stadium surface that played true through the 50 overs.
While opener Nissanka batted with confidence and kept the scoreboard ticking, wasting no opportunity to take singles and twos while scoring an occasional boundary, his partner Dimuth Karunaratne, who replaced Kusal Perera in the playing eleven, looked tentative and missed the line on a few occasions.
Karunaratne was finally done in by a Farooqi delivery that darted in and led to a vociferous lbw appeal.
Though the umpire wasn’t convinced, the review indicated otherwise and Karunaratne walked back with the score reading 22 for 1.
Nissanka though continued from where he had left off against England, where he had scored a polished unbeaten 77. But the aggression seemed missing on the day as he dealt mostly in ones and twos with skipper Kusal Mendis.
Nissanka’s boundary off pacer Naveen-ul-Haq in the 13th over had class written all over it as he freed his arms to a short-of-length delivery to place it behind the point.
But just when Nissanka, one of the most consistent Sri Lankan batters in the tournament, was eyeing his fifth half-century, pacer Azmat Omarzai got the prized wicket.
Nissanka tried to play a back of length delivery outside off from Omarzai towards backward point but the ball took the thinnest of edges en route wicketkeeper Rahmanullah Gurbaz.
The Lankan was in two minds and decided to take the DRS, but by the time he signalled to the TV umpire, the timer had already stopped and a dejected Nissanka walked back having scored 46 off 60 deliveries.
The 62-run partnership between him and Mendis though took Sri Lanka to 82 for 2.
At the half-way mark, Sri Lanka were still showing signs of progress though the scoring rate never crossed the five-run per over mark.
With Afghanistan spinners being pressed into service from both ends, Samarawickrama, who came in at the fall of Nissanka, and Mendis were literally kept under a tight leash.
In his effort to up the scoring rate, Mendis tried a big shot, but he was caught at deep midwicket by Najibullah Zadran off Mujeeb for 39.
If 134/3 in the 28th over wasn’t bad, Mujeeb struck again to get rid of the dangerous Samarawickrama for 36 off the first ball of the 30th over to reduce the Islanders to 139 for 4.
The century-maker against Pakistan, Samarawickrama, who has had a brilliant World Cup so far, was flummoxed by a Mujeeb googly which drifted in sharply and trapped him plumb in front.
Wickets kept falling at regular intervals with Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva and Dushmantha Chameera all failing to play an innings of substance as the Lankan innings folded rapidly.
- World Cup 2023
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