Sri Lanka claw back after Ibrahim century, Gurbaz, Rahmat fifties to restrict Afghanistan to 294

50 overs Afghanistan 294 for 8 (Ibrahim 106, Gurbaz 53, Rahmat 52, Hasaranga 2-42) vs Sri Lanka

Ibrahim Zadran scythed his way through the early overs alongside Rahmanullah Gurbaz, before building a mighty platform alongside Rahmat Shah, as he struck a second ODI century, and became prime architect in Afghanistan’s 294 for 8.

On a Pallekele surface that had a little pace and carry but not a lot of turn, Afghanistan’s top order was rarely troubled by Sri Lanka’s attack – four bowlers going at more than six an over. The visitors were 202 for 1 with 12 overs to go, and so perhaps would have hoped for a total beyond 300. But Sri Lanka clawed a little back during the death – five wickets falling in the last five overs, which cost Sri Lanka only 31 runs.

Aside from Ibrahim’s 106 off 120 balls, Afghanistan had half-centuries from Gurbaz, who hit 53 off 55, and Rahmat, who made 52 off 64. The opening partnership was worth 84 off 88 balls; the second-wicket stand 118 off 141. Najibullah Zadran then had Afghanistan flying into the death overs hitting a six and five fours in his 25-ball 42. After Najibullah got out to Wanindu Hasaranga in the 47th over, however, Afghanistan’s advance slowed.

Where Gurbaz was dropped (at slip, by Dhananjaya de Silva, off the bowling of Kasun Rajitha), in the fifth over, Ibrahim produced a largely flawless innings. His first boundary was a sweetly-struck drive that went wide of mid-off, but he really got into it against Rajitha in the seventh over, crashing him square through the legside off successive deliveries.

Gurbaz was more aggressive through the powerplay, but Ibrahim was perhaps better through the middle overs, finding risk-free singles all around the wicket as he worked his way conscientiously to a 62-ball fifty. That milestone came up in the 24th over; he had not added to his boundary tally since the ninth.

There was one edge off Lahiru Kumara that flew past the keeper when he was on 55, but otherwise, the progress to triple figures was pretty smooth too. He got there not long after Rahmat – who had also accumulated nicely through the middle overs – departed, getting to the milestone with a swivel-pulled four off Kumara, off the 116th delivery he faced. He holed out against the bowling of Maheesh Theekshana in the 42nd over.

Despite having been underwhelming for the first 90% of the innings, Sri Lanka were canny at the death, mixing up their lengths and pace, while frequently bowling to their field, as most Afghanistan batters struggled to time their big shots. De Silva dropped another straightforward catch, but other than that, Sri Lanka’s fielding was excellent – substitute fielder Ashen Bandara making a significant difference in the outfield, including in the penultimate over, when he ran down a powerfully struck ball hit square of deep midwicket, and essentially manufactured the run-out of Rashid Khan.

Hasaranga was easily the standout from among Sri Lanka’s bowlers, taking 2 for 42 from his 10. Rajitha was especially good at the death, conceding only nine runs from his last three overs. He took 52 for 1 from his 10.

(With Inputs from ESPN)

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