Mohammad Nabi smashed the fastest ever ODI half-century for Afghanistan, but his efforts eventually went in vain. Despite their impressive run chase, they lost to Sri Lanka by just two runs, failing to secure a place in the Super Fours stage of the Asia Cup cricket tournament at the Gaddafi Stadium.
Sri Lanka had earlier set the Afghans an imposing 292-run target, thanks to Kusal Mendis’ swashbuckling 92. Aside from his knock, there were significant contributions from the lower-order batsmen, as the island country managed to posts 291/8.
Afghanistan’s needed to chase down the target in 37.1 overs, and they came incredibly close to achieving what would have been a historic win. Their middle-order batsmen, including Mohammad Nabi (65 off 32), skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi (59 off 66), and Rahmat Shah (45 off 40), played brilliantly to keep them in the game.
Mohammad Nabi completed his half-century off just 24 balls, setting a new record for the fastest fifty by an Afghan batter. His aggressive innings included six boundaries and five sixes, keeping Afghanistan’s hopes alive.
However, they lost key wickets at crucial moments, including Nabi, Shahidi, and Karim Janat. Former skipper Rashid Khan played a crucial knock, scoring 27 off 16 balls, while Najibullah Zadran contributed 23 off 15. They guided Afghanistan to 289/8 by the end of the 37th over, but it just wasn’t enough.
In the final over, Afghanistan needed just two runs from the first ball, but Dhananjaya De Silva managed to get Mujeeb Ur Rahman caught, ending their hopes. There appeared to be confusion within the Afghanistan team regarding the required run rate, leading to a heartbreaking loss.
Sri Lanka’s triumph came thanks to stellar performances by pacer Kasun Rajitha (4/79) and Dhananjaya de Silva (2/12). However, a lot of their luck relied on the Afghanistan team management, which failed to convey the right calculations to their players, resulting in a dramatic conclusion.
In the first innings, Sri Lanka got off to a strong start, scoring 62 runs in the initial Power-play without losing any wickets. However, they faced a slump, losing three wickets quickly after a solid start. A rescue partnership between Charith Asalanka and Kusal Mendis saw them add 102 runs to the total.
Gulbadin Naib made early breakthroughs for Afghanistan, dismissing both openers. Rashid Khan, coming in to bowl in the 21st over, gave away 31 runs initially but managed to break the century stand. Meanwhile, Kusal Mendis fell short of his century.
Tailenders Dunith Wellalage and Maheesh Theekshana batted aggressively, adding 64 runs to Sri Lanka’s total.