It may count for nothing more than competitive practice, but Sri Lanka’s bowlers laboured for little to no success against Afghanistan, who recorded a comfortable six-wicket win in their Cricket World Cup warm-up match in Guwahati yesterday, on the back of a Rahmanullah Gurbaz century.
Afghanistan were set a target of 295, later revised to 257 off 42 overs after a rain interruption, and the Afghanistanis reached that score in 38.1 overs.
What made Gurbaz’s innings all the more exceptional was that he was on four runs off the first 20 balls he faced, before he found his groove to reach 50 in 61 balls, and then his century in 88 deliveries.
By the time he retired out, he retired four balls later, adding 19 more runs – three of his nine sixes coming off a single Lahiru Kumara over.
Gurbaz’s innings overshadowed an equally aggressive knock of 93 off 82 balls from Rahmat Shah, the pair putting on a partnership of 212, having been brought together when Afghanistan lost their first wicket on 19.
Shah followed Gurbaz to the dressing room, retired out, Afghanistan losing a further wicket before reaching the target a ball into the 39th over.
Kumara proved the most costly of Sri Lanka’s bowlers, being hit for 58 runs in 6 overs, with Dunith Wellalage and Dushan Hemantha also coming for more than 7.5 runs an over.
Earlier, Kusal Mendis smashed an incredible 158 in 87 balls, before retiring out himself, but Sri Lanka failed to build on the platform the stand-in skipper gave them to be bowled out for 294.
Shanaka sat out yesterday’s warm up match with an elbow strain he picked up in Sri Lanka’s first warm up match against Bangladesh.
Mendis was part of a 158-run third wicket partnership with Sadeera Samarawickrama of which only 32 runs came off the bat off Samarawickrama.
When Mendis retired hurt, on 158 at the end of the 30th over, Sri Lanka were 240/2 as Afghanistan fought back to claim the last eight wickets for 52 runs.
Soon after Mendis retired, Afghanistan turned the screws conceding just runs off the next 27 deliveries.
That phase of play culminated with the wicket of Samarawickrama, and the innings stalled further with the wickets of Charith Asalanka and Dunith Wellalage, with the score on 271.
From there, the Afghanistan bowlers continued to chip away, with Mohammad Babi finishing with 4 for 44 in eight overs