Match Report: The Ice-Cold Hitting Of Rajapaksa And Gunathilaka Was The Difference In Sri Lanka’s Victory

Mendis 36, Nissanka 35, Gunathilaka 33, Rajapaksa 31, Mujeeb 2-30, and Naveen 2-40 have contributed to Sri Lanka’s win, with 4 wickets to spare against Afghanistan in a match that held on 3rd Sept, 2022. On Saturday before last, Sri Lanka’s innings against Afghanistan ended with them being bowled out for 105 runs. In the first match of the Super 4 phase of the 2022 Asia Cup, the same batsmen delivered a good all-round effort, this time batting second by choice, to frustrate Afghanistan’s challenge and clinch a victory by four wickets. Kusal Mendis was playing with amazing strike rate like he was going to beat one day international highest score but got out at 36.

A large number of Sri Lankan batsmen contributed to the team’s total of 176 runs scored. In the final overs of the match, Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Wanindu Hasaranga smashed the bowling of Afghanistan, which resulted in the official event hosts securing victory with five balls to spare. Kusal Mendis began the early onslaught, Pathum Nissanka displayed his versatility, and Danushka Gunathilaka helped to alter the course of the match.

However, the batting order of the Sri Lankan team was not the only factor in play. Afghanistan had hoped to reach 200 thanks to the incredible 84 that Rahmanullah Gurbaz scored off of 45 balls, but the spinners that Sri Lanka used limited them to a much lower score.

Mahesh Theekshana gave up eight runs, Hasaranga gave up 23 runs, and Dilshan Madushanka took two wickets for 37 runs in the final two overs of the innings. It was the most successful chase in the history of Sharjah’s Twenty20 Internationals, and more significantly, it secured Sri Lanka two points in the Super 4.

Afghanistan suffered their first defeat in a Twenty20 International despite scoring 170 runs or more during their innings. They need to get back on track as soon as possible to prevent taking another step behind before their next matches against India and Pakistan. The 2022 Asia Cup was thrown into complete disarray when Rashid Khan scored 39, as no other batter besides Gurbaz appeared to be in their comfort zone.

The fact that Gurbaz was let out of prison was one of the first things that helped get the Afghanistan innings started. In the third over of the day, Gurbaz struck his first six of the day. On the next ball, he attempted to recreate the feat, but Gunathilaka took the catch by moving beyond the boundary line at long-off.

As Gurbaz continued to hit fours, the majority of the time he did so between long-on and deep midwicket, his score went from 8 runs off 5 balls to 50 runs off 22 balls. Gurbaz’s aggressive smashes were necessary for the team to reach 50 in 6.1 overs because Hazratullah Zazai scored only 12 off 16 deliveries before being bowled by Madushanka and the No. 3 batter Ibrahim Zadran got off to a slow start. Gurbaz’s smashes were also necessary because Hazratullah Zazai scored only 12 off 16 deliveries before being bowled by Madushanka.

Thanks to Gurbaz, Afghanistan continued in fine form despite some low bounce on the two-paced pitch. At the end of the eighth over, Afghanistan had a score of 70 for 1, and they were in the lead. However, because there was no boundary in the following four overs, Sri Lanka was unable to go back on track and win the match. Gurbaz changed the course of the game by smashing sixes off Dasun Shanaka and Chamika Karunaratne in consecutive overs. Ibrahim also added a couple of his powerful punches to the ground, which helped the team reach their target.

After Karunaratne’s 14th over, Afghanistan just needed 68 runs in the following six overs to accomplish their target of 200, and they still had nine wickets in hand at that point. Hasaranga restricted the opposition to only six runs in the sixteenth over, while the over that followed saw Gurbaz be caught at deep midwicket while attempting to take on Asitha Fernando. Eight runs were scored off of Theekshana’s 17th and 19th overs, while Ibrahim was dismissed by Madushanka after scoring 40 runs off of 38 balls in the 18th over.

While Najibullah Zadran scored 17 runs off of ten balls, Afghanistan was only able to score 12 runs off of the remaining 12 deliveries and 43 runs off of the final 36 deliveries due to the rapid wickets that were taken by Mohammad Nabi and Rashid in the final two overs.

Mendis faced neither of Afghanistan’s top spinners with any concerns, in contrast to Nissanka, who, in the previous match, struggled at the beginning against Afghanistan’s primary destructor. Mendis faced neither of Afghanistan’s primary spinners with any issues. During the fourth over, he scored 17 runs by smashing a slog sweep over deep midwicket off of Mujeeb Ur Rahman. During the sixth over, he scored 17 runs by smashing two sixes against Rashid.

This was only the second Twenty20 International in which Rashid has allowed 17 runs or more in his opening over, therefore the stage was set for the middle order to continue the chase ahead after the powerplay ended with Sri Lanka at 57 without loss.

Mendis’s departure came about when he mistimed a lift off Naveen-ul-Haq to deep midwicket, which led to the score being 36 after 19 balls and increasing the pressure on Nissanka. Nissanka appeared to be the linchpin of the batting order; however, he was taken out in the ninth over after scoring 35 runs off 28 balls while attempting to chase a Mujeeb half-tracker.

After suffering the loss of both openers in rapid succession, Sri Lanka decided to bring in two new batsmen, which helped boost their morale. The needed run rate in the eleventh over increased to 9.88 as a result of Gunathilaka and Charith Asalanka’s cautious start. Despite this, Sri Lanka managed to score 14 and 11 runs against Mohammad Nabi in the 12th and 14th overs, respectively. Even though Shanaka and Asalanka were both eliminated while trying heavy hits, the needed run rate remained significantly lower than ten as a result of this.

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