BRISBANE — Sri Lankan spinner Wanindu Hasaranga grabbed three wickets for 13 runs as the 2014 T20 World Cup champions thrashed Afghanistan by six wickets to keep their hopes — however slim — alive of a semifinal berth here on Tuesday.
Thanks to the 25-year-old Hasaranga’s exploits, Afghanistan were restricted to 144/8 before the Islanders knocked off the required runs with nine balls to spare, earning two valuable points and taking their tally to four from four games.
Hasaranga had emerged the leading wicket-taker at last year’s T20 World Cup and the Sri Lanka all-rounder is on track to match that feat in the ongoing edition of the tournament. He was also adjudged ‘Player of the Match’ at The Gabba.
The star bowler grabbed the key wicket of Usman Ghani (27) early and then returned at the back end to dismiss fellow spinners Rashid Khan (9) and Mujeeb Ur Rahman (1).
Ghani and Rahmanullah Gurbaz (28) had given Afghanistan a strong start by putting on 42 for the opening wicket, until Hasaranga’s timely intervention following the batting Powerplay, according to ICC. Hasaranga finished with match-winning figures of 3/13 and even chipped in with an excellent catch in the outfield to help dismiss the dangerous Najibullah Zadran (18).
Mujeeb produced a moment of brilliance when he clean bowled Pathum Nissanka for 10 early in Sri Lanka’s reply with a peach of a delivery. Mujeeb (2/24) got his usual drift in towards the pads, before the ball spun away from the bat and slammed into the top of off stump to leave Nissanka stunned and give Afghanistan some hope.
While the leg-spinner bowled well, fellow tweaker Rashid (2/31) got some stick as Dhananjaya de Silva (66 not out) crafted a fine half-century to guide Sri Lanka home.
Gulbadin Naib would have been elated entering Tuesday’s match after being called up to replace the injured Hazratullah Zazai, but the veteran batter’s comical dismissal left him flustered.
Naib had moved on nicely to 12 and was starting to feel at ease at the crease when in the 18th over he attempted to sneak a second run and dropped his bat mid-pitch when sent back by skipper Mohammad Nabi.
The Afghanistan veteran tried in vain to recover safely but was caught short.
The victory sees Sri Lanka stay in contention for an unlikely semifinal berth, although they will need everything to go right for them if they are to finish in the top two in Group 1. Dasun Shanaka’s side will need to defeat England on Saturday — and have other results go their way — to have any chance of sneaking into the last-4.
Afghanistan, meanwhile, are out of contention for a semifinal spot and meet Australia on Friday.
Brief scores: Afghanistan 144/8 in 20 overs (Rahmanullah Gurbaz 28, Usman Ghani 27; Wanindu Hasaranga 3/13) lost to Sri Lanka 148/4 in 18.3 overs (Dhananjaya de Silva 66 not out; Mujeeb Ur Rahman2/24) by six wickets. — (IANS)