by: Atika Mehboob TN Sport Pakistan:
With a stellar performance, Afghanistan demonstrated their cricket prowess by restricting Sri Lanka to a relatively low score and then efficiently chasing it down. Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, and Azmatullah Omarzai shone with their fifties, leading Afghanistan to leapfrog Sri Lanka on the points table.
Sri Lanka now faces a challenging path, needing victories in their upcoming matches against India, Bangladesh, and New Zealand to have a shot at the semi-finals.
Afghanistan’s bowlers were the linchpins in this game, preventing Sri Lanka from exploiting a pitch that was ideal for batting. Remarkably, even with a conducive batting surface, neither team managed to score significantly above five runs an over.
While Sri Lanka’s tentative play could be attributed to a lack of initiative, Afghanistan, guided by head coach Jonathan Trott’s strategies, pursued their chase methodically and effectively. The distinct 10-over milestones scribbled on Trott’s whiteboard were achieved with precision, leaving Sri Lanka in a helpless situation.
Despite an early setback in their innings, Afghanistan’s partnerships anchored their chase. They patiently waited for scoring opportunities, ensuring minimal risk-taking and consistent run accumulation.
Sri Lanka’s performance, however, wavered. Their cautious approach, especially in a match with significant semi-final implications, was evident. Although they had displayed aggression in previous games, their conservative play against Afghanistan seemed to reflect a mindset driven by fear and apprehension.
The Afghan bowlers, led by the exceptional Fazalhaq Farooqi, exploited Sri Lanka’s timid batting, taking wickets at crucial junctures. Farooqi’s impressive 4 for 34 stood out. Sri Lanka’s batting, shackled by its cautious approach, failed to capitalize on scoring opportunities. Kusal Mendis’s conservative play, for instance, restricted him to just three boundaries in a 49-ball stint.
Sri Lanka’s innings saw them crumble from a comfortable 134 for 2 to a precarious 185 for 7, with only a late partnership between Mathews and Theekshana providing some semblance of resistance.
In conclusion, while Afghanistan demonstrated both skill and strategy in their commanding win, Sri Lanka will need to re-evaluate their approach moving forward. With the semi-finals in sight, both teams will be eager to bring their best to the upcoming games.