Charith Asalanka guides Sri Lanka to settle ODI series against Afghanistan



Charith Asalanka smashed an unbeaten 83 as Sri Lanka made a record chase of 314 to take the lead Afghanistan He took four wickets on the Third Day International and the series ended level at 1-1 on Wednesday.

Ibrahim Zadran’s record-breaking 162nd opener for Afghanistan – the single highest for an Afghan – went to waste after leading the tourists to 313-8 in Pallekele.

Sri Lanka were in trouble at 249-6, but the pair of Asalanka and left-handed Donith Willaj put them on an unbeaten stand of 65 to take the team home with two spare balls.

The island nation has kept its hopes alive of securing direct entry into next year’s ODI Globalism cup in India With 10 crucial points in the Premier League win.

Asalanka, who struggled with cramps during the latter half of his 72-ball knock, hit six winners as the crowd erupted in joy with the highest ever chase on the field.

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Willalaj, 19, also kept his cool 31 off 21 balls as he smashed Gulbadin Nayeb for three fours in the 49th minute to take some pressure off Asalanka, who had rejected several doubles on the move.

Afghan spinner Rashid Khan returned the numbers 4-37.

Sri Lanka had started strongly with openers Pathum Nissanka (35) and Kosal Mendis (67) putting on 101 runs.

Dinesh Chandimal and skipper Dasun Shanaka also made useful contributions of 33 and 43.

He then put Asalanka on stand 79 with Shanaka as the duo mixed the right dose of caution and aggression.

Rashid stormed in to get Shanaka to bowl a googol jig that shook the stumps and soon hit the fourth when Wanendo Hasaranga came back clasping behind him for two before Asalanka and Yalag took over.

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Ibrahim, 20, stood out with the Afghanistan national team, which won automatic qualification for the World Cup in the previous match, as he scored 278 points, including 106 in the opening match.

He ran 154 with Najibullah Zadran left-handed, making 77, to rebuild the Afghan innings after three early wickets and put Sri Lanka on the back foot.

The effort was Afghanistan’s best fourth-wicket partnership, breaking the 2013 record of 144 between Nowruz Mangal and Samiullah Shinwari against Scotland.

It was Ibrahim’s third century in only his eighth ODI, and it surpassed Afghanistan’s previous highest score of 131 without being bettered by Mohammad Shahzad.

Ibrahim stood firm against the bowlers as he topped his best of an unbeaten 121 before leaving on the last ball of the innings.

He hit 15 fours and four sixes in his knocking of 138 balls.

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