Afghan lions make it difficult for Lankan tigers
Riding on T Dilshan’s brilliant unbeaten knock (83 off 56 balls), Sri Lankan tigers managed to chase down the total of 153/7 by Afghanistan in their ICC World T20 Super 10 opener at the Eden Gardens on Thursday. Sri Lanka won with 7 balls remaining.
Earlier, Asghar Stanikzai led from the front with a half century as Afghanistan overcame a slow start to post a challenging 153/7.
The Lankans stifled Afghanistan top-order by reducing them to 51/4 after 11 overs before Stanikzai (62 off 47 balls) and Samiullah Shenwari (31 off 23) built the innings. The duo stitched 61 off 33 balls for the fifth wicket and Stanikazai got a life twice, on 34 and 44 respectively.
Stanikzai was at his explosive best towards the later stages and hit Thisara Perera’s widish full length delivery over long on with one foot, reminding one of the trademark helicopter shot of Indian skipper MS Dhoni. After Stanikzai’s departure, left-hander Najibullah Zardan also had some meaty blows with a four and six against Nuwan Kulasekara in the last over. Afghanistan added 59 runs from the last five overs to set up competitive total. The Afghans however had a terrible start with inform opener Mohammad Shahzad, who was instrumental in their qualification to the Super 10, looking out of sorts.
Shahzad had a miss-and-hit stay as Afghanistan crawled to six runs in the first two overs. Noor Ali Zardan stepped up the runrate with a 20 off 23 balls but Herath once again triggered a collapse before the Stanikzai led by example.