Asia Cup 2022: Group B, AFG vs SL: Fazalhaq Farooqi's 3-fer, Mujeeb Ur Rahman's 2-24 and Rahmanullah Gurbaz - Hazratullah Zazai's 83-run stand are top performances. Afghanistan beat Sri Lanka in Group B game.
Brief Scores: Afghanistan 106/2 (Gurbaz 40, Zazai 37*, Hasaranga 1/19) beat Sri Lanka 105 (Rajapaksa 38, Farooqi 3/11, Nabi 2/14, Mujeeb 2/24) by eight wickets with 59 balls to spare
Player of the Match: Fazalhaq Farooqi for his figures of 3/11
Five-time Asia Cup winners Sri Lanka locked horns with Afghanistan who rank tenth in the ICC Men’s T20I team rankings in the opening game of Asia Cup 2022 in its fifteenth edition at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai on Saturday evening.
Sri Lanka, in their lone affair against Afghanistan at ICC World T20 2016 in India, won the game at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata by six wickets. Both sides were coming to the competition with series defeats recently.
Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi on winning the toss opted to bowl first in the country’s 100th T20I game. Sri Lanka handed two debut caps to Matheesha Pathirana and Dilshan Madushanka.
All-round Afghanistan register thumping victory in opening game
Put in to bat first, Sri Lanka found themselves in the middle of a nightmarish start as they lost three wickets with just five runs on the board in the first two overs. There was a little recovery session for them but an energized Afghanistan side kept on putting pressure on the opponents by picking up wickets to reduce them to 64/5 in 10 overs.
Some reckless shots and brain fade run out dismissals dressed the island side in tatters. However, few late onslaughts from Chamika Karunaratne pushed Sri Lanka to 105 all out in 19.4 overs.
Sri Lanka had the faintest of chances to make an impact in the game and that was possible only if they had picked early wickets but the Afghanistan opening combo of Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Hazratullah Zazai recorded 83 runs in the powerplay without any damage to shine up their net run rate.
Even after losing two wickets, they made their way to an easy win by eight wickets with 59 balls to spare. This is now the fifth biggest win in terms of balls left in T20Is played between Test playing nations.
Let’s scan the top three performances from the opening game of the Asia Cup 2022 between Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.
Sri Lanka found left arm pacer Farooqi too hot to handle
Sri Lanka found themselves in a quagmire of sorts in the very first over of the tournament. The 21-year-old left arm pacer, Fazalhaq Farooqi with his fourth ball of the game trapped opener Kushal Mendis before the wicket with a good length delivery that swung a bit to pin on the back leg of Mendis who went back on a personal score of 2.
On the very next ball, Farooqi trapped Charith Asalanaka before the stumps with another full-length delivery that nipped back sharply off the deck to hit Asalanka’s bat before he could bring his bat in an aim to defend it. Farooqi finished with 2/3 in the two powerplay overs.
Coming late in the innings, the left armer used the slower balls regularly to fox the batters before uprooting the stumps of Chamika Karunaratne with a full delivery that was dragged onto the stumps via an inside edge.
Farooqi, who now has 15 T20I wickets in 10 games, finished with figures of 3/11 in his 3.4 overs including a maiden to pack up Sri Lanka for 105.
Mujeeb’s 2/24 in the middle overs put Sri Lanka on the backfoot
Sri Lanka were already under tremendous pressure losing three wickets in the first two overs. However, there was a little partnership between Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Danushka Gunathilaka to recover the innings.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman who is renowned for fantastic performances in the shortest format of the game playing across the leagues in the world, sent back Gunathilaka who found the deep cover fielder playing a switch hit on 17.
In his third over, Mujeeb got the better of Wanindu Hasaranga on 2 who just threw his wicket in an attempt to go for a big slog across the line. The right arm spinner who has 40 wickets in 29 T20I games, returned with figures of 2/24 in his four overs.
Hurricane opening partnership between Zazai and Gurbaz blew away Sri Lanka
The only way Sri Lanka could make an impact in the game was by taking early wickets but two Afghanistan openers just smashed their dream into pieces.
After a couple of cold overs, Rahmanullah Gurbaz who is renowned for his firework batting cracked 16 runs in the third over of the innings bowled by debutant Matheesha Pathirana; the first boundary was pumped wide of the mid off fielder, while the second one was driven wide of the extra cover fielder, besides nailing a six over fine leg. He kept the onslaught going with another six, swept over fine-leg besides collecting another boundary in the wide mid-off region.
Hazratullah Zazai too after a slow start changed gears as he cleared his front leg to flick the ball over the long on stands for a six before adding a boundary by beating the diving mid off fielder. He smashed three more boundaries in a Chamika Karunaratne over as Afghanistan reached 83/0 in the powerplay, which is now their highest powerplay score in T20Is.
Even though Gurbaz got dismissed on 40 in 18 balls with three boundaries and four sixes to end the 83-run opening stand, Zazai stayed till the end to finish on unbeaten 37* to carry Afghanistan to a comprehensive victory by eight wickets.
Points Table Asia Cup 2022
What’s to Come
The second game of the tournament will see arch rivals India and Pakistan meeting each other on August 28 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai.