Tillakaratne Dilshan responded positively to Sri Lanka’s search for batting stability with an unbeaten 83 (56b, 8x4, 3x6) that took his side past a resurgent Afghanistan in the ICC World Twenty20 at the Eden Gardens, last night.
The victory in WT20 enabled islanders recover from the three successive losses suffered in the Asia Cup.
Dilshan innings supported well in defending champion Sri Lanka, overhaul Afghans target of 154, with 6 wickets and 7 balls remaining. Afghanistan, earlier, who batted first, reached 153-7 and their captain, Asghar Stanikzai (62, 47b, 3x4, 4x6) contribution in it, is inevitable.
Dilshan added an unbroken 42 for the 5th wicket with captain Angelo Mathews (21 not out), the two, guiding the side past, the finish line.
After Dilshan and Dinesh Chandimal (18) put on 41, Sri Lanka started a confident hunt. But after Dilshan was bowled, at mid-wicket and following Lahiru Thirimanne (6), Thisara Perera (12) and Chamara Kapugedera (10) too fell, the innings fell into the tough time with 113-4 in the 16th over.
Dilshan’s knock turned out to be the decisive factor, the win renewing Sri Lanka’s confidence ahead of its meetings against bigger opposition.
Afghanistan who opted to bat, performed well in the last 10 overs as Stanikzai went after the Sri Lankan bowling. Afghans who came onto the field, beating Zimbabwe, could not make it big up to 10 overs, whose score till then, was just 47-3.
Stanikzai, along with Samiullah Shenwari began the rescue act with a 61-run stand for the 5th wicket, the runs coming off just 33 balls and significantly changing the scenario.
In the second half of the innings, Afghanistan had two big overs. Stanikzai hit two huge sixes off left-arm spinner Milinda Siriwardana, to pick up 16 runs, in the 13th over.
The Afghanistan skipper, who was dropped twice, made the reprieves count. Najibullah Zadran’s lusty hitting in the last over, bowled by Nuwan Kulasekara, fetched 17. The last five overs yielded 59.
Afghanistan: Mohammad Shahzad c Chameera b Mathews 8 (12b, 1x4), Noor Ali Zadran b Herath 20 (23b, 3x4), Asghar Stanikzai c Chandimal b Perera 62 (47b, 3x4, 4x6), Karim Sadiq c Chandimal b Perera 0 (7b), Mohammad Nabi lbw b Herath 3 (4b), Samiullah Shenwari c Perera b Kulasekara 31 (14b, 3x4, 2x6), Shafiqullah c Thirimanne b Perera 5 (7b), Dawlat Zadran (not out) 5 (3b), Najibullah Zadran (not out) 12 (3b, 1x4, 1x6); Extras (lb-1, w-6): 7; Total (for seven wickets in 20 overs): 153.
Fall of wickets: 1-12 (Shahzad), 2-44 (Noor Ali), 3-46 (Sadiq), 4-51 (Nabi), 5-112 (Shenwari), 6-132 (Shafiqullah), 7-136 (Asghar).
Sri Lanka bowling: Angelo Mathews 3-0-17-1, Nuwan Kulasekara 4-0-43-1, Dushmantha Chameera 4-0-19-0, Rangana Herath 4-0-24-2, Thisara Perera 4-0-33-3, Milinda Siriwardana 1-0-16-0.
Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal c Shenwari b Nabi 18 (17b, 2x4, 1x6), Tillakaratne Dilshan (not out) 83 (56b, 8x4, 3x6), Lahiru Thirimanne b Rashid 6 (13b, 1x4), Thisara Perera run out 12 (8b, 1x6), Chamara Kapugedera run out 13 (9b, 1x4), Angelo Mathews (not out) 21 (10b, 3x4, 1x6); Extras (b-4, w-1): 5; Total (for four wickets in 18.5 overs): 155.
Fall of wickets: 1-41 (Chandimal), 2-58 (Thirimanne), 3-85 (Perera), 4-113 (Kapugedera).
Afghanistan bowling: Karim Sadiq 2-0-21-0, Hamid Hassan 3.5-0-38-0, Dawlat Zadran 3-0-31-0, Mohammad Nabi 4-1-25-1, Rashid Khan 4-0-27-1, Samiullah Shenwari 2-0-9-0.
Sri Lanka won by six wickets with seven balls remaining.
By Phani Ch