In a nail-biting encounter at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium, Sri Lanka showcased remarkable composure to secure a two-run victory over Afghanistan, earning themselves a coveted spot in the Super Fours of Asia Cup 2023. Kasun Rajitha’s explosive four-wicket performance and Dhananjaya de Silva’s crucial two-wicket over in the 38th over were the defining moments in this thrilling showdown.

Sri Lanka’s Target Sets the Stage

Sri Lanka set a formidable target of 292 runs for Afghanistan to chase during the innings break, creating a clear-cut challenge – to achieve this feat in 37.1 overs or less and secure a place in the Super Fours stage of Asia Cup 2023. The stage was set for a captivating contest. Chasing the target, Afghanistan faced an early setback as opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz departed for just 4 runs, courtesy of Kasun Rajitha’s precision bowling. A miscued shot from Gurbaz led to a straightforward catch by Kusal Mendis.

Kusal Mendis’ resilient 92 and a late partnership of 64 runs between Dunith Wellalage and Maheesh Theekshana propelled Sri Lanka to a competitive total of 291/8. Afghanistan’s Gulbadin Naib took four crucial wickets, while star spinner Rashid Khan scalped two. This hard-fought victory places Sri Lanka in the Super Fours, setting the stage for further exhilarating matches in Asia Cup 2023.

Afghanistan’s Spirited Pursuit to Qualify for Asia Cup 2023 Super Fours

Despite losing both openers early, Afghanistan rallied with Gulbadin Naib taking charge. He struck back-to-back fours off Rajitha’s deliveries before falling victim to Rajitha himself after scoring 22 runs. Hashmatullah Shahidi then shouldered the responsibility and marked his fifty.

A remarkable partnership between Mohammad Nabi and Shahidi, worth 80 runs off just 47 balls, kept Afghanistan firmly in the race for the Super Fours. Nabi’s lightning-fast fifty off 24 balls added further momentum. As the target drew near, Shahidi’s spirited innings ended after scoring 59, followed by Najibullah Zadran’s fiery knock of 23 off 15 balls. However, Dhananjaya de Silva’s two crucial wickets in the 38th over tilted the balance in Sri Lanka’s favor. With just three runs needed off one ball and the game hanging in the balance, Afghanistan’s hopes were dashed when Mujeeb fell to Dhananjaya de Silva’s delivery. Sri Lanka emerged victorious by the narrowest of margins, clinching a thrilling two-run win.

Also read: Asia Cup 2023: Controversy and Clashes – Najam Sethi Slams Jay Shah-Led ACC Over Venue Dispute


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