Sri Lanka score battling win over Afghanistan
DUNEDIN, New Zealand (AP):
Afghanistan threatened to produce a shock victory over Sri Lanka at the Cricket World Cup yesterday, before the favourites dug themselves out of deep trouble in the run chase and pulled off a four-wicket win. The Afghans made a respectable 232 after being sent in to bat and fiercely defended that total.
But a 126-run stand between Mahela Jayawardene and Angelo Mathews set Sri Lanka on their way to victory at the University Oval.
unbeaten 47 off 32
The Afghanistan bowlers were performing jubilant cartwheels as Sri Lanka lurched from 2-2 to 18-3 and 51-4. Jayawardene's 100, and 44 from captain Mathews salvaged the situation, but Sri Lanka were still a shaky 178-6 in the 42nd over. However, Thisara Perera's unbeaten 47 off 32 balls guided his team to victory, denying the Afghans a first World Cup victory.
"We probably dodged a bullet today," Jayawardene said. "All credit to Afghanistan. They batted very well in tough conditions and then bowled beautifully, bowled up to the batsman with a bit of movement and put us under a lot of pressure."
Earlier, Asghar Stanikzai made 54 in a record 88-run partnership for the third wicket, which lifted Afghanistan to 232. The partnership between Stanikzai and Samiullah Shenwari (38) was the largest for any wicket by Afghanistan against a top-eight nation in a one-day international (ODI) and helped them from 40-2 to 128-3 in the 28th over.
Afghanistan were in a strong position at 140-3 after 30 overs, with runs on the board and wickets in hand, but weren't able to capitalise on the platform set by Stanikzai, who now has five half-centuries in official ODIs.
Lasith Malinga showed signs of form in taking 3-41, and Mathews matched those figures as Sri Lanka slowed Afghanistan's scoring, holding them to 10-2 during the batting power play, and to 63 from the last 15 overs.
"We started very well for the first 30 overs, but after that, we didn't play well," Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi said. "We were short 30 or 40 runs."