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  5. Kusal Mendis begins captaincy tenure in style as Sri Lanka clinch ODI series against Afghanistan

Kusal Mendis begins captaincy tenure in style as Sri Lanka clinch ODI series against Afghanistan

Charith Asalanka won the Player of the Match award for his unbeaten 97 off 74 balls. His knock was studded with nine fours and two sixes and came at a strike rate of 131.08.

Written By: Kumar Rupesh @afiestysoul New Delhi Updated on: February 12, 2024 6:57 IST
Kusal Mendis (left) and Charith Asalanka (right).
Image Source : SRI LANKA CRICKET/X Kusal Mendis (left) and Charith Asalanka (right).

Kusal Mendis got his full-time captaincy tenure off to a rollicking start as Sri Lanka defeated Afghanistan in the second ODI of the three-match series by a staggering margin of 155 runs to take an unassailable 2-0 lead.

Batting first at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, the Lankan Lions got off to a poor start after the tourists got rid of both their openers and reduced them to 36 for the loss of two wickets in 8.3 overs.

However, the Hashmatullah Shahidi-led side failed to seize the opportunity with both hands and Sri Lanka managed to claw their way back into the game. 

Fifties from four batters - Mendis (61 off 65 balls), Sadeera Samarawickrama (52 off 61 balls), Charith Asalanka (97* off 74 balls) and Janith Liyanage (50 off 48 balls put the hosts back into the driver's seat and changed the entire complexion of the game.

Asalanka, in particular, was brilliant with the bat in hand and racked up his runs at an incredible strike rate of 131.08 and propelled the home side to 308.

Barring Azmatullah Omarzai, none of the other Afghan bowlers managed to make an impression. Omarzai bagged a three-for and finished with figures of 3/56 in his 10 overs. 

In reply, Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmat Shah kept the visitors in the hunt till the 30th over. They stitched a 97-run stand for the second wicket and exerted a lot of pressure on the Sri Lankan bowling attack.

However, Asitha Fernando and Wanindu Hasaranga removed Zadran and Shah in a span of three overs and shut the door down on Afghanistan's face.

Afghanistan's batting collapsed like a house of cards and it was Hasaranga who engineered it. The wily leg-spinner finished as the pick of the Sri Lankan bowlers with figures of 4/27 in 6.5 overs.

Afghanistan eventually got bundled out for 153.

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