KANDY: Opening batsman Ibrahim Zadran scored a fine 106 as Afghanistan defeated Sri Lanka by 60 runs in their opening one-day international at Pallekele International Stadium on Friday.
Zadran propelled Afghanistan to 294-8 and Sri Lanka was all out for 234 with 12 overs to spare.
“It was a very good wicket to bat on,” Zadran said. “When I was dismissed, I told my teammates that we should try and get something like 320. Even when Sri Lanka batted, the wicket was really good. The wicket didn’t change much but our bowlers were too good.”
Sri Lanka had hopes during the run chase while Pathum Nissanka was in. The opening batsman scored an 83-ball 85 with 10 boundaries. However, Nissanka didn’t have much support from the rest of the top order.
Wanindu Hasaranga threatened to take the game with a late flourish. He smashed 22 runs off a Mohammad Nabi over that included a six and four boundaries and reached his fourth half-century in 31 deliveries.
The required rate was very much under Sri Lanka’s control but Hasaranga, the last established batsman, was running out of partners. He was the last man out.
“It is very disappointing,” Sri Lanka skipper Dasun Shanaka said. “I don’t think we executed our plans with the ball. It’s a good wicket but we shouldn’t have given away 294. We bounced back well but it was too late. Afghanistan built partnerships but we failed to do that. We didn’t convert good starts.”
Afghanistan’s top order put up a splendid performance and although Sri Lanka fought its way back in the death overs, a target of 295 was too much for the hosts.
The 20-year-old Zadran, playing just his sixth ODI, added 84 runs for the first wicket with Rahmanullah Gurbaz (53) after they opted to bat first.
Zadran then added 118 runs for the second wicket with Rahmat Shah (52) and Afghanistan had 200 runs on the board with 12 overs and eight wickets in hand.
Zadran reached his second ODI hundred with a lovely pull shot to the fine-leg boundary off Lahiru Kumara. Left-arm quick Fazalhaq Farooqi ended his knock when Zadran dragged one onto the stumps.
Farooqi finished with four wickets and was well backed up by Gulbadin Naib, who claimed three wickets.
Afghanistan lost its way after Zadran’s dismissal, as five wickets fell for 27 runs in the last four overs.
But Afghanistan earned a second win against Sri Lanka in six games and inched closer to qualifying for the Cricket World Cup in India next year.
The second of three matches is on Sunday.
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