Miscalculation proves nemesis of brave Afghanistan as SL enter Super 4s

Lahore, (UNI) Miscalculation proved nemesis for Afghanistan as they still had a chance to qualify after 37.1 overs, but the brave Afghanis were unaware of it as Fazalhaq Farooqui came out and blocked when it was required for the team to hammer a six off the next three balls.

Rashid Khan, who was at the non-striker’s end, could only watch agonisingly Farooqui blocking the first two balls and then getting out trapped leg before of the third ball, giving heartbreak for millions of Afghans.

Nevertheless, Afghanistan deserves all the kudos for putting a fantastic show with their never-say-die attitude while chasing an herculean target of 292 runs in 37.1 overs at Gaddafi Cricket Stadium here on Tuesday.

Opting to bat, Sri Lanka posted 291/8, riding high on Kusal Mendis who scored a magnificent 92 runs, and late onslaught by Maheesh Theekshana (28 off 24) and Dunith Wellalage (*33 off 39).

Afghanistan began the chase by losing both their openers – Rahmatullah Gurvaz (4) and Ibrahim Zadran (7) -cheaply to Kasun Rajitha. And yet, they did not give up.

Gulbadin Naib set the tone by scoring 22 off 16 balls with four hits to the boundary. Rahmat Shah batted elegantly, making 44 off 45 balls with 5 boundaries and a six.

Mohammad Nabi, the experienced pro, walked into the middle at 121/4 and got going with a six after a lull of the first 4 balls that he faced. Thereafter, the cricket fans witnessed something incredible.

The 38-year-old allrounder took the Lankan attack to the cleaners and hammered a 24-ball fifty, which was fastest by any Afghanistan batsman.

Feeling the pressure, Theekshana broke the dangerous 80-run stand by having Nabi caught by Dhananjaya de Silva in the deep.

Wellalage bowled a brilliant 32nd over removing Karim Janat (22 off 13, 1×4 2x6s) and half-centurion and captain Hashmatullah Shahidi for 59 off 66 balls with 3 boundaries and a six.

Rashid took it deep and his team were one hit away. However, when Dhananjaya removed Mujeeb ur Rahman (0), Afghanistan finally gave up even though they still had a chance.

Earlier, Sri Lanka won the toss and batted first. Dimuth Karunaratne and Pathum Nissanka gave Sri Lanka a strong start, adding 63 runs for the first wicket, before Naib crashed the Lankan party. He scalped Dimuth Karunaratne for 32 (35), and packed off Nissanka 41(40) shortly after.

Gulbadin then made another inroad as he packed Sadeera Samarawickrama for 3(8), reducing Sri Lanka to 86/3 from 63/0.

Mendis and Asalanka steadied the ship by forging a 102-run stand for the fourth wicket, with the top-scorer looking menacing against spin.

Sri Lanka slipped again as Rashid Khan picked up Mendis and captain Dasun Shanaka (5) in the same over. At 227/7, Sri Lanka were in a spot of bother Theekshana and Wellalage batted responsibly to take the team near to 300-run mark.

Afghanistan needed to score 292 runs in 37.1 overs to secure a spot in the next round, and cricket fans found it hard to wait for the excitement and drama that would unfold during the run chase. 

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