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ICC World Cup 2019 | Pradeep, Malinga Hand Sri Lanka Hard-earned Win Over Afghanistan

Cricketnext Staff |June 5, 2019, 7:09 AM IST
ICC World Cup 2019 | Pradeep, Malinga Hand Sri Lanka Hard-earned Win Over Afghanistan

Nuwan Pradeep and Lasith Malinga made up for the poor performance from Sri Lankan batsmen and somehow led their team to a 34-run victory (DLS) against Afghanistan in a rain-interrupted encounter at the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff on Tuesday (June 4).

Asked to bat, Kusal Perera smashed a solid 78 and helped Afghanistan reach 144 for 1 at one stage. That's when Mohammad Nabi (4 for 30) took the matters into his own hands and wreaked havoc by scalping three wickets in an over. There was a rain intervention as well and the match was reduced to 41 overs-a-side, but Sri Lanka could never recover from that blow and were bundled out for 201 in 36.5 overs.

Chasing 187 (revised target) in 41 overs, Afghanistan could not get going as Pradeep (4 for 31) and Malinga (3 for 39) kept picking up wickets at regular intervals and knocked over the Gulbadin Naib-led side for 152 in 32.4 overs.

Kusal Perera got Sri Lanka off to the best possible start as he went after the Afghanistan bowlers from the word go. The left-hander commenced his innings with a boundary and there was no stopping them. The 28-year-old was particularly aggressive against Hamid Hassan as he took him apart for 30 runs in his first two overs. Meanwhile Dimuth Karunaratne (30), who carried his bat against New Zealand, didn't try anything fancy and allowed his partner to do most of the talking.

Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who didn't get the new ball only for the second time in his ODI career, was introduced in the fifth over and along with Nabi was able to bring the run rate slightly down. Having added 92 runs in 13 overs, everything was going well for Sri Lanka before Karunaratne played an uncharacteristic shot that landed straight into the hands of the long on fielder.

Coming at No. 3, Lahiru Thirimanne did the same job that Karunaratne was doing so far and ensured Kusal Perera got most of the strike. In the process, Thirimanne went past 3000 ODI runs, while Kusal Perera completed his fifty in 42 deliveries. The platform was set and it looked like Sri Lanka would go on to post a massive first innings total, but Nabi had other ideas.

With South Africa charging along nicely, all Nabi needed was one over - the 21st - to bring Afghanistan back in the game. The offspinner first knocked over Thirimanne for 25 before having Kusal Mendis (2) and Angelo Mathews (nought) caught at first slip. Not one of those three deliveries was unplayable as Nabi kept it straight and simple but it was enough to leave Sri Lankan batsmen in disarray.

The only unplayable delivery came from Hamid who managed to nip one away from Dhananjaya de Silva (nought) and had him caught behind in the very next over. If that wasn't enough, Thisara Perera (2) was run out while going for a needless single.

Kusal Perera

With wickets crumbling at the other end, Kusal Perera had to slow down and restrict himself from playing any big shot. His stay finally came to end in the 33rd over when he gloved one to the wicketkeeper while playing a reverse sweep off Rashid Khan's bowling.

That's when rain arrived and stopped play for almost three hours. Despite the match being, there were still eight overs left when the action resumed but Dawlat Zadran (2 for 34) and Rashid Khan (2 for 17) cleaned up the last two wickets in no time to end the demolition that was started by Nabi.

Sri Lanka needed early wickets to keep themselves in the game and it was Lasith Malinga who get them their first. The right-arm paceman dismissed Mohammad Shahzad for 7, before Isuru Udana had Rahmat Shah (2) caught at first slip.

Hazratullah Zazai (30) played a couple of big shots before Nuwan Pradeep removed him and Hashmatullah Shahidi (4) to bring Sri Lanka back in the match. Thisara Perera too straightaway got into the act as he knocked over Nabi for just 11.

With conditions favourable to seamers, Sri Lankan pacers found decent movement off the pitch and dismantled Afghanistan's top five. The onus was once again on Naib and Najibullah Zadran and it was these two who added 83 runs against Australia. The run rate was never an issue but the duo operated at a pretty decent strike rate and put on 64 runs for the sixth wicket.

Just when it looked like Sri Lanka were running out of options, Pradeep pinned Naib right in front of the stumps for 23 and then in his next over castled Rashid with a brute of an inswinger. Dawlat (6) stayed for a while before being sent back by Malinga and the entire burden fell on the shoulders of Najibullah.

Najibullah, who hit six fours in his 56-ball 43, was run out by Karunaratne and their hopes of winning their second World Cup game shattered into pieces. What was started by Malinga, was ended by the same man as he uprooted the middle-stump of the last Afghanistan batsman to give his team a morale-boosting win.

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Cricket World Cup Points Table

5 4 1 0 8 +0.81
4 3 0 1 7 +2.16
4 3 0 1 7 +1.02
4 3 1 0 6 +1.55
5 2 2 1 5 -0.27
5 1 2 2 4 -1.77
5 1 3 1 3 +0.27
5 1 3 1 3 -0.20
5 1 3 1 3 -1.93
4 0 4 0 0 -1.63

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3631 113
2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3663 105
5 Australia 2640 98
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Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 5720 124
2 India 5990 122
3 New Zealand 4121 114
4 South Africa 4647 111
5 Australia 4805 109
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Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 Australia 5471 261
5 India 7273 260
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