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Afghanistan win three-run thriller, but Sri Lanka take T20 series

21 February 2024 11:53 pm - 6     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Dambulla, Feb. 21 - Afghanistan salvaged some pride on Wednesday when they secured a nail-biting three-run win over hosts Sri Lanka in the third T20 international, the last game of their multi-format tour.

It has been a wretched tour for the Afghans -- losing six matches in a row -- but skipper Ibrahim Zadran said he was "feeling great" after his team held their nerve in a dramatic close with a hard-fought win.

"I am happy with the win," Zadran said. "Unfortunately, we lost the series."

Sri Lanka had already secured the three-match T20 series after winning the first two games, the first by four runs, and the second by 72 runs.

They had also won the one-off Test match and the one-day international series in a 3-0 clean sweep.

But Afghanistan seemed determined to win at least one match.

- 'Under pressure' -
Sri Lanka required 36 off the last two overs, with Dasun Shanaka bringing the chase down to 24 off eight balls -- but was run out.

That left Sri Lanka with 19 runs needed off the last over.

But they could manage only 15, with the game marred by controversy as tensions spiked in the last six balls.

The fourth ball from Wafadar Momand was a high full toss, but the square leg umpire didn't call a no ball despite batters' protests.

Captain Wanindu Hasaranga was seen exchanging words with the umpires.

"We played good cricket in the first two games," Hasaranga said.

"Credit goes to our bowlers and the batters".

Fighting to the end, Kamindu Mendis hit a six off the last ball of the innings, but it was not enough and Sri Lanka fell short by three runs.

Mendis was unbeaten on 65 off 39 balls, with seven fours and two sixes, achieving his maiden half-century in T20 cricket.

On a pitch tailor-made for batting, giving little room for error for the bowlers, Sri Lanka's openers gave them a rousing start adding 64 runs in 35 balls.

The partnership was broken when Kusal Mendis attempted a boundary on the off-side but failed to clear the extra cover fielder where Sharafuddin Ashraf back-peddled and took a good catch.

In the process, the fielder banged his head onto the turf.

Ashraf was replaced as the concussion substitute rule came into effect and leg-spinner Qais Ahmad took his place.

Afghanistan took two wickets in three balls when Noor Ahmad trapped Kusal Perera leg before wicket for a duck.

Pathum Nissanka posted his tenth T20 half-century, off 27 balls, but soon after hurt his hamstring and his movements were restricted.

He moved to 60 with a six off Noor Ahmad and retired soon afterwards. He faced 30 balls and hit eight fours and two sixes.

Afghanistan's big total was thanks to the efforts of their openers, posting 88 runs off 44 balls.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz went onto make 70 after being dropped twice.

"I was under pressure but I tried to go in today and play my natural game," Gurbaz said. "I took responsibility and I think that was the reason."

Sri Lanka battled back with Matheesha Pathirana claiming two wickets in two balls, but it was not enough to stop Afghanistan from scoring over 200 runs.


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  Comments - 6

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  • mario Thursday, 22 February 2024 04:37 AM

    Now this is what I call cricket. Exciting to the very end. Lovely

    Cricket fan Thursday, 22 February 2024 06:46 AM

    It's not the Afgans who won the match, it's the UMPIRE who won the match. There should be a system to review numb decisions like this. The full toss was almost above chest level. Even though the batsman took a step forward, it should be a no ball because it was way too high. If SL got the No ball and the free hit, we could have surely got the last 3 runs. So, bad umpiring, this should be inquired.

    It was Hasaranga who made the bad situation terrible Thursday, 22 February 2024 01:43 PM

    If ICC were asked to review about whole situation, they would have to charge Hasaranga for bringing the game to disrepute.

    Inshi Thursday, 22 February 2024 08:28 AM

    Congratulations Sri Lanka and well played Afghanistan. Winning and losing are part and parcel of a game. It is the way the team fights till the end that matters. Sometimes the umpires do make mistakes but it has to be accepted. No one likes to be at the receiving end of wrong decisions but do not express too much dissent . The viewers all know what happened. Just forget it and move on.

    This is reality Thursday, 22 February 2024 08:36 AM

    Giving the boys on the bench an opportunity was a good move. But it is becoming obvious that Kusal Janith and Shanaka should hang up their boots voluntarily. The steps going forward should not be compromised for past heroics.

    The truth Thursday, 22 February 2024 02:25 PM

    If you have noted this particular umpire in fact has a habit of favouring touring teams specially white teams so that he gets more international favours from the ICC.


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