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The Hindu
The Hindu
Amol Karhadkar

AFG vs SL | Farooqi on fire as Afghanistan keeps itself in the hunt for semifinal berth

At the start of the chase, the Afghanistan dug-out had split the target of 242 into phases of 10 overs each on its whiteboard. The last row stated ‘48 242’, the coaching staff asking its in-form batting group to cross the line comfortably. And the batters did not disappoint.

Despite falling behind the asking rate at the midway stage, the middle-order ensured that the Afghans got over the finish line well before the target that was set by the coaching group.

Afghanistan’s captain Hashimatullah Shahidi with Azmatullah Omarzai during the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup match against Sri Lanka in Pune on October 30, 2023. (Source: AP)

The seven-wicket win, achieved with 28 deliveries to spare, against Sri Lanka at the Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium on October 30 kept the spirited Afghan side in the hunt for a semifinal berth.

Gurbaz goes early

Despite losing aggressive opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz in the opening over, Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmat Shah stabilised the innings.

Ibrahim carried on the good work with the in-form Rahmat before captain Hashmatullah Shahidi and Azmatullah Omarzai stitched together an unbroken partnership of 111 runs to finish the game in style.

With the scores tied, Omarzai attempted to smash Dushmantha Chameera — playing his first game of the tournament — into the stands but Charith Asalanka dropped a sitter even as a group of Afghanistan fans studying in Pune were screaming behind him. That summed up the night for Sri Lanka.

For Sri Lanka, barring left-arm pacer Dilshan Madushanka — who accounted for the openers in each of his first two spells — no other bowler looked threatening. The result has almost ended Sri Lanka’s chances of making it to the last four.

Afghanistan beats Sri Lanka
Lalith Kalidas
Afghanistan beat Sri Lanka for the first time in ODI World Cups in three meetings since 2015.
Hashmatullah Shahidi scored his 18th ODI half-century. He now has the fourth-most fifties in ODIs without ever hitting a hundred. Misbah-ul-Haq (42), Andrew Jones (25) and Graham Thorpe (21) are the only batters ahead of Shahidi.
Shahidi also surpassed Rahmat Shah for most fifty-plus scores among Afghanistan batters in ODI World Cups.
Shahidi also became the fifth Afghan batter to complete 2000 ODI runs.
Fazalhaq Farooqi registered his best ODI bowling figures (4/34). It is also the second-best figures by an Afghan bowler in the ODI World Cup, behind Mohammad Nabi’s 4/30 in 2019.

More than its bowling unit, it was the batters who let Kusal Mendis’ men down. The top-seven all got into double figures but none of them converted it into a fifty as the team crawled to 241 before being dismissed in the last over.

Controlling the game

Whenever the Sri Lankan batters tried to break the shackles, a well-oiled Afghanistan bowling unit did not let them do so.

The fact that the Afghans controlled the game right through the day underlined their domination.

Just when opener Pathum Nissanka and Mendis’ second-wicket association was blossoming, Omarzai nipped one back to force a nick off the former’s blade for Gurbaz to do the rest behind the stumps.

Rashid Khan, playing in his 100th ODI, bowled a peach of a delivery to castle Dhananjaya de Silva, ending the Islanders’ hopes of accelerating in the death overs. Had it not been for Maheesh Theekshana’s cameo, Sri Lanka would not have even touched the 240-run mark. In the end, that proved well short when the Afghans took strike.


SRI LANKA INNINGS: Pathum Nissanka c Gurbaz b Omarzai 46 (60b, 5x4), Dimuth Karunaratne lbw b Farooqi 15 (21b, 1x4), Kusal Mendis c sub (Najibullah Zadran) b Mujeeb 39 (50b, 3x4), Sadeera Samarawickrama lbw b Mujeeb 36 (40b, 3x4), Charith Asalanka c Rashid b Farooqi 22 (28b, 2x4), Dhananjaya de Silva b Rashid 14 (26b, 1x4), Angelo Mathews c Nabi b Farooqi 23 (26b, 1x4, 1x6), Dushmantha Chameera run out 1 (4b), Maheesh Theekshana b Farooqi 29 (31b, 3x4, 1x6), Kasun Rajitha run out 5 (7b), Dilshan Madushanka (not out) 0 (4b); Extras (lb-2, w-9): 11.

Total (in 49.3 overs): 241.

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-22 (Karunaratne, 5.2 overs), 2-84 (Nissanka, 18.1), 3-134 (Mendis, 27.4), 4-139 (Samarawickrama, 29.1), 5-167 (Dhananjaya, 35.6), 6-180 (Asalanka, 38.5), 7-185 (Chameera, 39.6), 8-230 (Theekshana, 46.6), 9-239 (Mathews, 48.3).

AFGHANISTAN BOWLING: Mujeeb 10-0-38-2, Farooqi 10-1-34-4, Naveen 6.3-0-47-0, Omarzai 7-0-37-1, Rashid 10-0-50-1, Nabi 6-0-33-0.

AFGHANISTAN INNINGS: Rahmanullah Gurbaz b Madushanka 0 (4b), Ibrahim Zadran c Karunaratne b Madushanka 39 (57b, 4x4, 1x6), Rahmat Shah c Karunaratne b Rajitha 62 (74b, 7x4), Hashmatullah Shahidi (not out) 58 (74b, 2x4, 1x6), Azmatullah Omarzai (not out) 73 (63b, 6x4, 3x6); Extras (lb-1, w-9): 10.

Total (for three wkts. in 45.2 overs): 242.

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-0 (Gurbaz, 0.4), 2-73 (Ibrahim, 16.5), 3-131 (Rahmat, 27.6).

SRI LANKA BOWLING: Madushanka 9-0-48-2, Rajitha 10-0-48-1, Mathews 3-0-18-0, Chameera 9.2-0-51-0, Theekshana 10-0-55-0, Dhananjaya 4-0-21-0.

Toss: Afghanistan; PoM: Farooqi.

Afghanistan won by seven wickets with 28 deliveries to spare.

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