In a thrilling match on Monday, Afghanistan secured its third triumph in the World Cup 2023 by defeating the 1996 world champion, Sri Lanka, by 7 wickets. This remarkable victory has propelled Afghanistan to an impressive position in the tournament, as they have already defeated three former champion teams this season, including Pakistan and England.
Afghanistan’s World Cup Journey
As of now, Afghanistan boasts 6 points from 6 matches, and their performance keeps them firmly in the race for the semi-finals. On the other hand, Sri Lanka’s hopes of making it to the top 4 have dwindled significantly, as they have only managed to accumulate 4 points in 6 matches.
In this crucial encounter, Afghanistan won the toss and chose to bowl first at the Pune ground. Their bowlers delivered an excellent performance, limiting the Sri Lankan team to a total of 241 runs in 49.3 overs. Afghanistan showcased their prowess with the bat by successfully chasing down the target, losing only 3 wickets in the process.
Several Afghan players made significant contributions to their team’s victory. Azmatullah Omarzai, with a splendid 73 runs, led the charge, while Rahmat Shah and captain Hashmatullah Shahidi also played crucial innings, scoring 62 and 58 runs, respectively. Opener Ibrahim Zadran added 39 runs to the total. On the bowling front, Fazalhaq Farooqui took 4 wickets, and Mujeeb ur Rehman claimed 2 wickets.
Points Table Reshuffled
Following this triumph, Afghanistan’s position in the points table of the World Cup 2023 has improved to the 5th position. With 3 wins and 3 losses, they now have 6 points from 6 matches. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka has slipped to the 6th position after their fourth defeat, accumulating 4 points with 2 wins and 4 losses.
The Key Partnerships
One of the key moments in Afghanistan’s innings was the unbroken partnership of 111 runs between captain Hashmatullah Shahidi and Azmatullah Omarzai, which secured their victory. They achieved this feat on 104 balls during the last 15.2 overs, both scoring half-centuries.
In the middle overs, after a solid start in the powerplay, Afghanistan’s Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmat Shah added 73 runs on 97 balls for the second wicket. Dilshan Madushanka managed to dismiss Zadran on the 5th ball of the 17th over.
Sri Lankan Innings Struggles
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, faced difficulties during their innings. Their openers, Pathum Nissanka and captain Kusal Mendis, showed promise with scores of 46 and 39 runs, respectively. However, the rest of the batting lineup struggled to build substantial partnerships. Fazalhaq Farooqui was the standout bowler for Afghanistan, taking 4 wickets, while Mujeeb ur Rahman contributed with 2 wickets.
Afghan Bowlers Dominate Middle Overs
Afghanistan’s bowlers, particularly in the middle overs, played a crucial role in restricting Sri Lanka’s total. Between the 11th and 30th over, they claimed 3 wickets and allowed Sri Lanka to add only 103 runs to their score. After Nissanka’s departure at 46 runs, no Sri Lankan batsman managed to reach a fifty.
Sri Lankan Struggles in Powerplay
Sri Lanka faced challenges right from the start, managing only 41 runs in the first 10 overs with the loss of a wicket. Their batting in the powerplay was uninspiring, with a run rate of 4.1 and only 18 runs scored in the initial 5 overs. Afghanistan’s bowlers maintained consistent pressure from the beginning, with Fazalhaq Farooqui dismissing Dimuth Karunaratne in the sixth over.
Injury to Afghanistan’s Wicketkeeper
In an unfortunate incident, Afghanistan’s wicketkeeper Ikram Alikhil suffered an injury while collecting a throw in the second over, leading to his early exit from the field. Rahmanullah Gurbaz took over the wicketkeeping duties in his absence.
Fond Farewell to Sri Lankan Superfan Uncle Percy
On a somber note, Sri Lankan superfan Uncle Percy, the cheer squad leader, passed away recently. Percy Abeysekara, who celebrated his 87th birthday in August, was a beloved figure in Sri Lankan cricket. His passing was a great loss to the cricketing community, and he will be fondly remembered for his unwavering support for Team India captain Rohit Sharma.
In conclusion, Afghanistan’s impressive victory over Sri Lanka in the World Cup 2023 has solidified their position in the tournament and is a testament to their cricketing prowess. The thrilling match showcased brilliant performances by players from both teams, making it a memorable day for cricket enthusiasts around the world.