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Afghanistan secures a narrow victory in a thrilling high-scoring match

Afghanistan secures a narrow victory in a thrilling high-scoring match

Rahmanullah Gurbaz (70 off 43) and Hazratullah Zazai (45 off 22) showcased their explosive batting prowess as Afghanistan posted a formidable total in the final T20I against Sri Lanka in Dambulla on Wednesday (February 21). Despite Pathum Nissanka’s brilliant 60 off 30 and Kamindu Mendis’ unbeaten 65 off 39, Sri Lanka fell agonizingly short of the target in a thrilling finish.

Gurbaz and Zazai’s explosive start

Opting to bat on a batting-friendly pitch, Afghanistan’s openers, Gurbaz and Zazai, got off to a flying start, plundering 72 runs in the powerplay. Gurbaz set the tone with aggressive strokes, while Zazai joined in with powerful hits, putting Sri Lanka under pressure early on.

Sri Lanka fights back with spin

Sri Lanka needed a breakthrough to stem the flow of runs, and Akila Dananjaya provided it by dismissing Zazai. The spin duo of Wanindu Hasaranga and Dananjaya slowed down the scoring rate, claiming crucial wickets to restrict Afghanistan’s progress in the middle overs.

Late flourish by Omarzai and Ishaq

Afghanistan seemed set for a score over 200, thanks to Gurbaz and Zazai’s partnership. However, a middle-overs slowdown threatened their momentum. Azmatullah Omarzai (31 off 23) and Mohammad Ishaq provided a late surge, helping Afghanistan reach a formidable total with some big hits in the final overs.

Nissanka’s blitzkrieg

In response, Pathum Nissanka continued his good form, anchoring Sri Lanka’s chase with aggressive strokes. Despite losing partners at regular intervals, Nissanka kept the scoreboard ticking, taking Sri Lanka close to the target.

Nissanka retires hurt, Kamindu fights on

Nissanka’s innings was cut short by a hamstring injury, forcing him to retire hurt. This setback didn’t deter Kamindu, who continued to play aggressively, keeping Sri Lanka’s hopes alive. Despite losing partners, including senior players like Angelo Mathews and Dasun Shanaka, Kamindu fought valiantly, almost single-handedly keeping Sri Lanka in the game.

Controversial finish

In a thrilling final over, Sri Lanka needed 19 runs for victory. Kamindu struck two boundaries but was denied a clear no-ball call on a high full toss, which could have changed the outcome. Despite hitting a six off the final ball, Sri Lanka fell short by just three runs, handing Afghanistan a narrow victory.

Brief scores: Afghanistan 209/5 in 20 overs (Rahmanullah Gurbaz 73, Hazratullah Zazai 45; Akila Dananjaya 2-37) beat Sri Lanka 206/6 in 20 overs (Kamindu Mendis 65, Pathum Nissanka 60; Mohammad Nabi 2-35) by three runs.

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