Asia Cup: SL seal final berth with big win vs Afghanistan
Bowling to a sea of red, white, blue, purple and green seats in a near-empty Sher-e-Bangla stadium, the Afghanistan bowling enthralled for most of the Sri Lankan innings.
The built of the pacers combined well with the craft of the spinners to threaten and cut through a formidable Sri Lankan batting. Inexperience, however, caught-up in the dying stages. Attempts to try harder than what was skillfully possible for a potent but naive attack, backfired allowing Sri Lanka to post 253 for six, a mountain too steep for an inexperienced Afghan batting to scale.
Having knocked off five Sri Lankan batsmen at 158, including the ominous looking Kumar Sangakkara, possibility of another heroic Afghanistan triumph remained a possibility. But Sri Lankan captain, Angelo Mathews (45*), ensured his side did not slip over the banana skin. Building on Sangakkara's strokeful 76, Mathews hung around before launching a late charge.
After Sangakkara had struck artistic drives through cover, Mathews made room and took on the pacers. Slapping the left-arm pace of Shapoor Zadran over midwicket from off towards the end demonstrated class. His knock was supplemented with some inexperienced bowling that added to the extras freely or gave away regulation full-tosses to toy with.
There was a need for heroes for Afghanistan to have challenged the target against the likes of Lasith Malinga and Ajantha Mendis. Last game's star, Asghar Stanikzai (27) hit a couple of delightful drives on the up but ultimately succumbed to the superiority of the opposition — bowled between bat and pad by a Thisara Perera ball.
Mendis completed the formalities by feasting on a batting unit unaware of how to pace the innings during a chase.