Sri Lanka got their World Twenty20 title defence off to a winning start as they beat Afghanistan by six wickets in Kolkata on Thursday, chasing the 154 required with seven balls to spare.
Afghanistan made 153 for seven in their 20 overs, thanks to a late charge and some excellent batting from skipper Asghar Stanikzai, who made 62 off 47 balls. Tillakaratne Dilshan’s 72 not out was the key during the chase.
After winning the toss and opting to bat, Afghanistan got off to a relatively slow start, which was not helped by the loss of Mohammad Shahzad in the third over. The danger man was gone for eight, off Angelo Mathews’ bowling.
Stanikzai continued to hold steady at the one end, but watched as his partners departed in rapid succession. Noor Ali Zadran was bowled around his legs by Rangana Herath for 20, and then Karim Sadiq and Mohammad Nabi fell for single figures.
Samiullah Shenwari then joined the skipper and they took the score past 100, putting on a half ton stand, as the Afghans found their feet. They added 106 runs in the second half of the innings.
Stanikzai was out for 62 in the 19th over, while Shenwari was gone for 31 a few overs prior. Sri Lanka’s pacemen took a flurry of wickets at the death, but Afghanistan managed to get 17 runs on the board in the final over.
As such, the target was not as easy as the first 10 overs would have predicted, and Sri Lanka really had little trouble chasing it down, thanks in some part to some very sloppy fielding near the end.
Opener Dilshan was in form from the start, going so far as to his a Dilscoop for six off paceman Hamid Hassan, and was the driving force of the knock. He struck three sixes in his 72.
Aside from Dilshan, most of Sri Lanka’s batsmen failed to reach 20, with the next best score a 21 not out from Angleo Mathews, and then 18 from Dinesh Chandimal, who opened the batting. Thisara Perera added 12 to the score, before being run out by Shahzad.