Last time, when Sri Lanka and Afghanistan met in the World Cup, it was a topsy-turvy ride that saw Sri Lanka defeating the Afghan contingent closely. Once again, these sides presented a beautiful game in Cardiff and it showed that it was Sri Lanka who remained calm throughout the game.
Sri Lanka raced off to a startling start with the bat, with Kusal Perera taking on the bowlers in the power play. He crushed Hamid Hassan and Dawlat Zadran to all parts, sticking to an outstanding partnership with skipper Dimuth Karunaratne. All the pressure they were under before this game, it formed the perfect start to start a game.
Kusal Perera finished his first fifty this World Cup and his association with Karunaratne which amounted to 92 runs at the end. However, once Lahiru Thirimanne fell in the 22nd over, things started to change. Mohammad Nabi took two more wickets and impetus began to shift. Hamid Hassan chipped in with a wicket in the next over that saw the side slump from 144/1 to 149/6 in a span of 11 deliveries. Wickets kept falling at regular intervals in the next few overs as the Afghans gained total control over the Islanders.
Afghans were given a target of 187 in 41 overs via the D/L method. However, even chasing a moderate score, was tough for the Afghan batters.
Gulbadin Naib and Najibullah Zadran came together when Afghanistan was grappling at 57/5 and fought hard. They presented some attacking shots and got the team over the 100-run mark. However, the partnership was broken with Naib getting dismissed for a 32-ball 23 and Pradeep picked up another wicket soon to complete 4 wickets on the day.
Sri Lanka: 201 all out in 36.5 overs (Kusal Perera 78; Mohammad Nabi 4/30, Rashid Khan 2/17)
Afghanistan: 152 all out in 32.4 overs (Najibullah Zadran 43; Nuwan Pradeep 4/31, Lasith Malinga 3/39)
Sri Lanka won by 34 runs (D/L method)
Man of the Match: Nuwan Pradeep