Afghanistan shocked Sri Lanka as they recorded a dominant six-wicket win in the first ODI match at Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium, Hambantota on Friday, June 2. The Full-strength Sri Lankan team managed to score 268 runs while batting first with Charith Asalanka top-scoring with 91 off 95. But the traveling Afghanistan team easily chased the target after a sensational knock from opener Ibrahim Zadran with 19 balls remaining.
The stand-in skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi won the toss for Afghanistan and elected to bowl first. In a big shock for Afghanistan, Rashid Khan was ruled out of the first two games with a back injury. On the other hand, the hosts handed international debuts to pacer Matheesha Pathiran and leg spinner Dushan Hemantha.
The veteran batter Dimuth Karunaratne returned to ODI cricket after two years of gap and opened an innings with Pathum Nissanka. But the former Test skipper managed to score just four runs before getting dismissed on Fazalhaq Farooqi's delivery in the third over. Sri Lanka also lost in-form wicketkeeper batter Kusal Mendis on just 11 runs but Nissanka scored crucial 38 runs to keep the scoreboard moving.
Sri Lankan top order struggled against the Afghan bowling attack as they failed to form any meaningful partnerships. Mujeeb Ur Rahman dismissed Nissanka in the 15th over and Sri Lanka were down to 4/84. But Charith Asalanka and Dhanajaya de Silva produced a 99-run stand for the fifth wicket to help Sri Lanka post a fighting total. Asalanka scored 91 off 95 while Dhananjaya added 51 runs as Sri Lanka's innings collapsed to 268 runs in 50 overs.
While chasing a tough total, Afghanistan lost their first wicket in the form of wicketkeeper batter Rahmanullah Gurbaz in the sixth over. Lahiru Kumara bowled out the opener but the hosts failed to capitalize on that. Zadran and Rahmat Shah pulled off a 146-run partnership for the second wicket to ensure an early win for Afghanistan. Pathirana picked his maiden international wicket in the form of Rahmat Shah who scored 55 runs but endured a costly spell on his debut.
Zadran missed out on his fourth ODI ton by just two runs as he was dismissed by Kasun Rajitha in the 37th over. But his knock had put Afghanistan in a comfortable position to win the game. Zadran won the Player of the Match award as Afghanistan recorded an easy win. After three-match ODI series against Afghanistan, Sri Lanka travel to Zimbabwe for the World Cup 2023 Qualifiers starting on June 18.