Afghanistan's Rahmanullah Gurbaz plays a shot during the Asia Cup Twenty20 International cricket Group B match between Sri Lanka and Afghanistan at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai. Image Credit: AFP

Clinical display by Afghanistan

Dubai: Afghanistan produced a clinical win to outclass Sri Lanka with a eight-wicket win in the DP World Asia Cup opener at the Dubai international Stadium on Saturday.

Afghanistan openers Hazratullah Zazai and Rahmanullah Gurbaz snuffed out any hopes Sri Lanka had of restricting the opponents with a calculated assault to score in excess of 10 runs rate in the first six overs. By the time Gurbaz was dismissed at the end of powerplay, the match was almost over with Afghanistan racing to 83/1 in 6.1 overs. Zazai remained unbeaten on 37. Afghanistan had surprised everyone with a measure game when one expected a better show from the Sri Lankan team, especially after a stunning performance at home against Australia. But all the Islanders managed was to disappoint themselves and the vociferous fans, who were rooting for Sri Lanka.

On the other hand, Afghanistan used all their experience to decimate the inexperienced Sri Lankan batting that did not show any intent to give themselves a challenging total, after being put in to bat.

Kusal Mendis started the slide when he went for a big heave, missing the line and getting dismissed leg before and Fazalhaq Farooqi produced a beauty off the next ball to dismiss Charith Asalanka the next ball to reduce Sri Lanka to two down for three.

Despite losing two early wickets, the remaining batters did not apply themselves to build the innings and kept playing their shots only to succumb. Bhanuka Rajapaksa waged a lone battle until he went for a non-existent run to bring his innings to an end while Chamika Karunaratne showed his big-hitting skills to take Sri Lankan total past the 100-run mark in the last over of the innings.

The eight-wicket surrender will make the Sri Lanka’s progress to the Super 4 a herculean task as their run-rate will be way below now, which will be difficult to alter in the one game against Bangladesh, should all teams finish on the same points.

Afghanistan openers punish Sri Lankan bowlers

Afghanistan openers are showing their clear intentions to race to the target, scoring at the rate of 10 in the first three overs of their innings. Though Afghanistan survived a scare, when Rahmanullah was adjudged leg before only for the replays to suggest that the ball was missing the leg stump, they wasted no time to punish the Sri Lankan bowlers, making full use of the field restrictions. Afghanistan reached 50-run mark in 4.2 overs, with Rahmanullah and Hazratullah hitting sixes at will. After 5 overs, Afghanistan are 62 for no loss.

Lacklustre batting display by Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka produced a lacklustre display to be dismissed for a paltry 105 in 19.4 overs against Afghanistan in the DP World Asia Cup opener at the Dubai International Stadium on Saturday.

Nothing went right for Sri Lanka, who missed the home crowd after the event was shifted from the island nation to UAE, from the toss, which the Afghanistan skipper and put the Lankans in to bat on a fresh wicket.

However, the display by the Sri Lankan batters must have disappointed the vociferous supporters, who were rooting for their team. The way the Sri Lankan batters approached the innings seemed very ancient, trying to attack every opportunity without showing any respect to the bowling and no intent to build the innings on a slightly greener pitch that had more carry and swing.

Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Chamika Karunaratne were the major contributors for Sri Lanka’s total as they lost wickets in heaps. It was Karunaratne’s knock and an invaluable 30-run partnership that gave Sri Lanka something to fight, taking past 100-run mark.

Afghanistan batters need to show restraint and play the ball on merit to take their team to victory. Only half the battle is own as yet.

Afghanistan's Rashid Khan appeals against Sri Lankan batsman Chamika Karunaratne in the first match of Asia Cup at Dubai International Cricket stadium. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Sri Lanka go past 100-run mark

Sri Lanka labored past the 100-run mark with Karunaratne providing the late fireworks in a lacklustre batting display in the last over of the match. A 30-run unbroken last wicket partnership ensured that the islanders have some runs to defend after being 75/9.

Errors galore for Sri Lanka

Comedy of errors is hastening Sri Lanka’s innings. First a suicidal run out off a misfield has brought an end to the fighting knock by Rajapaksa, who lost his concentration momentarily and went for a non-existent single, was well short of his crease off a direct throw only 10 feet away, while the next ball saw Maheesh Theekshana well short of crease. After 15 overs, Sri Lanka are 75/9.

Afghanistan skipper Mohammed Nabi celebrate after taking the wicket of Sri Lankan batsman Dasun Shanaka in the first match of Asia Cup at Dubai International Cricket stadium. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

An upset on the cards

At the halfway stage, Sri Lanka have lost their way completely after more than half the batting back in the pavilion. Rajapaksa is waging a lone battle and the right path is a common-sense approach, that seemed to be lacking. Hasaranga played a lofted shot too early in the innings only to scoop the ball to skipper Nabi at long off. Skipper Shanaka too followed quickly by trying to guide the ball to the third man only to edge it to keeper. After 10.1 overs, Sri Lanka are 64/6. An upset on the cards.

Bhanuka Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka plays a shot against Afghanistan in the first match of Asia Cup at Dubai International Cricket stadium. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Sri Lanka’s brief fightback ends

Sri Lanka have conceded the initiative back to Afghanistan after a brief consolidation by Gunathilaka and Rajapaksa. Gunathilaka did not make the most of the dropped chance to play reverse sweep straight into the hands of deep point. After eight overs Sri Lanka are 54 for 4 after racing ro 49 off 7 overs with the last of the powerplay overs from Azmatullah Omarzai costing 20 runs. The Afghan seamer could have redeedmed himself but for a dropped chance off Gunathilaka, when the left-hander was 15.

Patience is the need of the hour for Sri Lankan batters

Rajapaksa and Gunathilaka is beginning the rescue act after Sri Lanka lost the third wicket of Pathum Nissanka, both hitting some sweetly timed shots. Now the real test begins with the advent of spin. After five overs, the Islanders are 21/3. Not the right start the hosts would have wanted. But still there is plenty on the wicket with a good carry. So even a score of 145-150 is highly defendable. The need of the hour is patience.

Fans celebrates as Afghanistan left-arm pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi is congratulated by team mates as he struck a twin-blow in his first over to push Sri Lanka off the backfoot. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Afghanistan pacer strikes a twin blow

Afghanistan left-arm pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi struck a twin-blow in his first over to push Sri Lanka off the backfoot. He first dismissed Kusal Mendis, who want for an expansive drive, leg before off the fifth ball and then had Charith Asalanka stuck at his crease for a delivery that swung in to trap him. After one over Sri Lanka are 3/2 with Farooqi on a hat-trick.

Afghanistan won the toss and elected to field.

The teams:

Afghanistan: Mohammad Nabi (captain), Najibullah Zadran (VC), Rahmanullah Gurbaz (WK), Hazratullah Zazai, Ibrahim Zadran, Karim Janat, Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Naveen Ul Haq, Mujib Ur Rahman.

Sri Lanka: Dasun Shanaka (captain) Danushka Gunathilaka Pathum Nissanka Kusal Mendis (WK) Charith Asalanka Bhanuka Rajapaksa Wanindu Hasaranga Maheesh Theekshana Chamika Karunaratne Dilshan Madushanka Matheesha Pathirana.

Sri Lanka hold slight edge over Afghanistan in Asia Cup opener

The DP World Asia Cup 2022 opener will be a clash of mystery spin wizards as both Sri Lanka and Afghanistan face off at the Dubai International Stadium today.

Sri Lanka hold a slight edge over Afghanistan due to their better batting prowess and their confidence is high after a stunning show at home against Australia.

Surprise package

But the Sri Lankan batters can’t even afford to blink against a superior spin attack of Afghanistan, led by Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman.

Sri Lanka will have to rely heavily on Wanindu Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana, but the surprise package could be ‘Baby Malinga’ Matheesha Pathirana, who could pose a bit of a problem to Afghan batters on a pitch that has a little tinge of green.