Sri Lanka survive World Cup scare to beat Afghanistan by 34 runs after middle-order collapse in Cardiff
- Sri Lanka limped over the line to a 34-run victory by DLS over Afghanistan
- Kusal Perera inspired a blistering start for Sri Lanka before they hit self-destruct
- Off-spinner Mohammad Nabi steamrolled through the Sri Lankan middle order
- Sir Lanka lost five wickets for just 15 runs and they limped on to post 201 all-out
- But they were let off the hook as Afghanistan fell short of a revised target of 187
Sri Lanka survived a World Cup scare on Tuesday as they scraped past Afghanistan in a low-scoring affair in Cardiff.
The Sri Lankan batsmen pressed the self-destruct button and managed to limp their way to 201 all out, setting the tournament minnows a very gettable revised target of 187 from their 41 overs, owing to the rain delay.
But Sri Lanka were let off the hook as Afghanistan fell just 34 runs short to hand their opponents a much-needed first win of the tournament.
Lasith Malinga of Sri Lanka celebrates after bowling Hamid Hassan to win the match
Sri Lanka started brilliantly but a middle-order collapse meant they could only post 201
But they were let off the hook as Afghanistan fell 34 runs short of a revised target of 187
Sri Lanka got off to a blistering start with the bat, slapping Afghanistan’s seam attack all around the park. Kusal Perera was the primary aggressor, helping to propel his side up to 149 for one in double-quick time. Then came the implosion.
In a tournament which has consisted largely of trial by bouncer, it was Afghani off-spinner Mohammad Nabi who steamrolled through the Sri Lankan middle order, claiming three scalps in one over.
In a calamitous middle period, Sri Lanka lost five wickets for just 15 runs and never truly recovered.
Star spinner Rashid Khan removed Perera for 78 to leave Sri Lanka truly in the mire at 180 for eight. And after the rain delay, the Lions’ tail failed to wag.
Sri Lanka lost five wickets for just 15 runs as their middle order collapsed but were let off
Afghanistan struggled to 57 for five but Najibullah Zadran restored hope, before falling short
In response, Hazratullah Zazai clubbed experienced duo Lasith Malinga and Suranga Lakmal to all parts to get the Afghanistan innings off to a flier.
But he was dismissed by a blinding catch at fine leg from Thirimanne as Afghanistan slumped to 57 for five.
But they refused to let the contest slip and a 64-run stand between Gulbadin Naib and Najibullah Zadran restored hope.
Naib eventually fell, but Najibullah continued to fight valiantly until he was dismissed thanks to a superb run-out from Dimuth Karunaratne. And that was that.
It was far from convincing from the Sri Lankans, but they will be mightily relieved to get one in the win column. Afghanistan, meanwhile, appear destined to cause an upset at some point in the coming weeks.
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