Afghanistan lose 6 for 43 to be bowled out for 266

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48.2 overs Afghanistan 266 (Rahmat 65, Omarzai 54, Madushan 3-45) vs Sri Lanka

Despite fifties from Rahmat Shah and Azmatullah Omarzai, and a blazing start from Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Afghanistan were bowled out for 266 in the third ODI against Sri Lanka in Pallekele.
With the series wrapped up, Sri Lanka had brought in Dunith Wellalage and Akila Dananjaya for Wanindu Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana. On a drier-than-usual surface, the pair proved able deputies and produced figures of 2 for 38 and 2 for 54 respectively. Asitha Fernando grabbed a pair as well, with Pramod Madushan being the pick of the bowlers with 3 for 45 in what was a well-rounded bowling display from the hosts.

Aside from Dilshan Madushanka – whose wicketless spell of six overs for 52 runs reflected the lack of swing on offer – none of Sri Lanka’s other six bowlers used went for more than six an over.

In all it proved to be a frustrating outing for the Afghan batters, who were unable to build on Rahmanullah Gurbaz’s early aggression. When Gurbaz struck Madushanka for four consecutive boundaries in the first over of the match, it seemed that Afghanistan were set to make amends for their poor batting effort in the last game. Sri Lanka however reeled in the visitors well, with just 65 runs allowed in the opening powerplay.

Wellalage and Madushan impressed during this period, giving away just 23 runs between them, and in turn made up for Madushanka’s uncharacteristic lack of control. The bowlers were also aided by some solid ground fielding, highlighted by Avishka Fernando’s excellent pick-up and throw to run out Ibrahim Zadran – a drop in the slips by Charith Asalanka the very next ball off Gurbaz was a rare error in the field.

Afghan skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi had spoken before the match about the need to put on more partnerships, and in this respect Afghanistan delivered. Following an opening stand of 39, there were partnerships of 57, 58 and 57 for the second, fourth and fifth wickets respectively. Where they faltered however was in capitalising on these platforms.

Gurbaz, despite his fast start, was not able to keep up his scoring rate and fell sweeping – bowled around his legs – for an ultimately laboured 48 off 57. Shahidi followed shortly after, edging a Dananjaya googly to slip.

This brought Rahmat and Omarzai together and the pair sought to rebuild. Between the 20th and 30th overs they scored at a hair under run-a-ball to keep the scoring rate touching six an over, but just as they might have been looking to accelerate Rahmat was trapped leg before looking to sweep Wellalage.

While this did not halt Afghanistan, it did delay any potential period of acceleration. Omarzai and Ikram Alikhil proceeded to put on the third fifty-plus stand of the innings between the 30th and 40th overs, but then once more just as Afghanistan were on the cusp of upping the ante Sri Lanka struck. Alikhil was surprised by a Wellalage delivery that ripped back in from wide outside off to clip the outside of off stump.

From this point on Sri Lanka barely gave the opposition a sniff, with just 42 runs given away from the 40th over onwards. Madushan, Asitha and Dananjaya loomed large in this period, with the two fast bowlers sharing the last five wickets between them to close out the Afghan innings.



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