World Cup 2023: Afghanistan inflict seven-wicket defeat on Sri Lanka

Afghanistan’s captain Hashmatullah Shahidi celebrates with teammate Azmatullah Omarzai (L) after scoring a half-century (50 runs) during the 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup one-day international (ODI) match between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune on October 30, 2023. — AFP

In yet another victory, Afghanistan on Monday crushed Sri Lanka by seven wickets in a comfortable run chase in the 30th match of the ICC World Cup 2023 at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune, India.

Hashmatullah Shahidi’s men recorded back-to-back wins for the first time in the history of the tournament, as before this year’s mega event, they had only one victory in two World Cups — 2015 and 2019.

Just like their last victory against Pakistan, where they chased down 282 with eight wickets to spare, the Afghans played with remarkable temperament and didn’t play rash and sloppy shots.

Even though they met with an early blow as in-form batter Rahmanullah Gurbaz was removed by Dilshan Madushanka in the first over, Rahmat Shah and Ibrahim Zardan provided the much-needed stability to their batting.

Shah was the key to Afghanistan’s run chase as the right-handed batter played an important knock of 62 runs off 74 balls with seven fours.

After Shah was removed by Kasun Rajitha, skipper Shahidi and Azmatullah Omarzi built a match-winning partnership of 111 runs and cruised their side to an important win.

Shahidi scored 58 runs while Omarzai contributed 72 runs as they helped their side chase down the 242-run target in 45.2 overs.

Batting first, Sri Lankan batters were troubled by Afghanistan’s bowlers as none of the single batters, other than Pathum Nissanka who scored 46 runs, could manage to score big.

Afghanistani bowlers kept taking wickets at regular intervals and were soon all out for 241 runs.

Kusal Mendis (39) and Sadeera Samarawickrama (36) were the top second and third top scorers for the Islanders.

Fazalhaq Farooqi was the pick of the bowlers for the Afghan as the left-handed pacer caused all kinds of troubles for Kusal Mendis’ men and took four wickets for 34 runs in 10 overs.

Afghanistan will now take on the Netherlands on November 3 in Lucknow, which will be an important match for Shahidi’s men as they will look to remain alive in the race to the semi-final.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka will play the unbeaten India side on November 2 in Mumbai.

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