Thursday, March 17, 2016

World Cup T20 : Sri Lanka vs Afghanistan

In a match of unevens, the defending Champions had an easy opening game against minnows Afghanistan. Though, in their last encounter, it was the experienced Mahela, who had bailed them out, but he is not around this time, & so is injured Malinga.

Having won the toss, Afghanistan decide to bat, which looked like a good bet at Kolkata. Having entered the main round, beating Zimwabwe, Scotland & Hongkong quite easily in the qualifying matches, the Afghans looked in good spirits & intent.
Despite a slow start, Afghans managed a good score in the end....a more than par score at 153 for 7, guided by a brilliant 62 by Asghar with good support from Shenwari (31) & Noor Ali(20).
Though Asghar Stanikzai lost his wicket in the crucial 19th over, they still managed lusty hits by Zadran to pick up 17 runs in the last over to fly past 150 mark. Truly a commendable total. With three spinners in their ranks, the match looked well poised at the halfway mark.

The chase by the defending Champions needed a strong start from openers Chandimal & vintage Dilshan. They did not disappoint, as Chandi cut loose in the 1st over itself, & Dilshan used the 3rd over to swat one over mid wicket & one Dilscoop behind the keeper for sixes. Chandimal however gave away his wicket after getting his eye in for just 18 & by the end of power play six overs, it was 41 for 1. Spinner Nabi bowled a beautiful maiden over, scalping Chandi, while Rashid was spinning a web at the other end with excellent googlies, getting Thirimanne. Thisera & Kapudegera could not build on starts, getting out to freak dismissals.
In the end, it was Man of the Match, oldie Dilshan's controlled aggression ( 83 off 56 balls), which got the Lankans home with more than an over to spare. Also coming to the party was skipper Mathews (21 off 10 deliveries), who hit some lusty blows towards the end to ensure a much needed victory by six wickets.
The Afghans had themselves to blame with some poor fielding in the deep giving away easy boundaries & letting the pressure slip by. However, they should take positives from this game, - their spinners Nabi & Rashid were simply superb, & in batting they posted a fighting total.

The pitch at Eden Gardens looks like a belter, with some assists to the spinners. The game between India & Pakistan looks all set to be a humdinger.....