Sri Lanka’s batters find form to thwart Afganistan charge – BY TREVINE RODRIGO IN MELBOURNE

Sri Lanka’s batters find form to thwart Afganistan charge – BY TREVINE RODRIGO IN MELBOURNE

Trevine Rodrigo | elankaSri Lanka’s batters found fluency at long last and it made the difference between saving face, and humiliation, as they sealed a pulsating 4 wicket win with two balls remaining against Afghanistan,  to level the series. 

On a Pallekelle track that showed few terrors, Afghanistan led by prolific run machine Ibrahim Zadran who smashed a dominant 162 off 138 balls took them to an imposing target of 313.

Zadran was joined by Najibullah Zadran 77 Off 76 balls with the Afgans shaky at 57 fo 3 to lead a fantastic recovery.  But it was not to be their day of glory. 

Even the return to form by Rashid Khan who grabbed 4 for 31 in his spell wasn’t sufficient to turn the tide Afghanistan’s way as the Sri Lankan batsmen went on a rampage to complete a memorable win. 

If things went to expectation, from Sri Lanka’s brittle batting, Afganistan would undoubtedly have harboured hopes of a triumphant tour. 

But Sri Lanka’s batting decided otherwise for once, finding depth from their contributions to bravely overhaul the challenge thrown at them. 

It was a welcome trend from a team struggling for consistency since the T20 World Cup in Australia. 

Coach Chris Silverwood has his work cut out to establish a winning culture among this squad who are undoubtedly brimming with confidence and talent but sadly find consistency and temperament an issue.

Openers Pathum Nissanka 35 off 55 balls and Kusal Mendis 67 off 61 balls set the tempo with a blistering opening stand of 101 in 17.1 overs followed by useful knocks from Dinesh Chandimal 33 off 32 balls and skipper Dasun Shanaka 43. 

Charith Asalanka 83 off 72 balls with 4 sixers and 5 fours then hooked up with prodigy Dinuth Wellelage 31 off 21 balls and propelled the home team to victory in a memorable assault that realized 65 runs from the last 6.9 overs.

The inclusion of Wellelage turned out to be a master-stroke as he clearly matures into a fantastic allounder despite his age.

The fight showed that Sri Lanka’s prone and limp state has a pulse that can be shaken back to life with nurturing and thoughtful direction. 

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