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ICC World Cup 2019: Match 7, Afghanistan vs Sri Lanka, Review – Kusal Perera, Pradeep and Malinga help the Islanders brush Afghanistan away

Sri Lanka once again kept their nerves much like they did in 2015 World Cup.

Kusal Perera
Kusal Perera. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Last time these two countries met in the World Cup, it was a topsy turvy ride which saw Sri Lanka pip the Afghan contingent by the skin of their teeth courtesy Mahela Jayawardene‘s ton. Once again, these sides pulled off a fantastic game in Cardiff and once again, it was Sri Lanka who held their nerve eventually.

Sri Lanka raced off to a sensational start with the bat, with Kusal Perera taking on the bowlers in the powerplay. He smashed Hamid Hassan and Dawlat Zadran to all parts, stitching a brilliant partnership with skipper Dimuth Karunaratne. All the pressure they were under before this game, this was the perfect way to begin a game.

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Kusal Perera completed his first fifty this World Cup and his partnership with Karunaratne which accounted for 92 runs came to an end. Kusal Perera was not done yet as he went on about his business with sheer class. But once Lahiru Thirimanne fell in the 22nd over, things began to change. Mohammad Nabi took two more wickets and momentum began to shift.

Hamid Hassan chipped in with a wicket in the next over, which saw the side slump from 144/1 to 149/6 in a span of 11 deliveries. Wickets kept falling at regular intervals in the next few overs as they gained complete control over the Islanders. Kusal Perera, who tried sailing against the wind but he too eventually fell for an 81-ball 78.

When they were batting at 182/8 in 33 overs, the rain was getting heavier and the game was stopped for a good couple of hours. The officials decided to continue the Sri Lankan innings, which eventually got bowled out at 201. Afghanistan were presented a target of 187 in 41 overs via the D/L method.

Nuwan Pradeep roars for the Lankan Lions

Chasing a moderate target, the Afghan batters fumbled courtesy some brilliant bowling from the Lankan bowlers. Hazratullah Zazai tried to get some boundaries going but his 25-ball 30 was a little too short and brief. Their middle order began to collapse with Isuru Udana dismissing Rahmat Shah and Pradeep getting Hashmatullah Shahidi.

Gulbadin Naib and Najibullah Zadran came together when Afghanistan were struggling at 57/5  and fought hard. They played some confident attacking cricket and got the team over the 100-run mark. But the partnership was broken with Naib being dismissed for a 32-ball 23 and Pradeep picked up another wicket soon to complete 4 wickets on the day.

Najibullah Zadran battled towards the end, stitching a couple of partnerships with Dawlat Zadran and Rashid Khan, but it just wasn’t enough. When Zadran ran himself out in the 32nd over, the game was virtually done. Malinga eventually closed the game with a brilliant yorker that crashed into the stumps, which saw them earn a much-needed win.

Brief Scores

Sri Lanka: 201 all out in 36.5 overs (Kusal Perera 78; Mohammad Nabi 4/30, Rashid Khan 2/17)

Afghanistan: 152 all out in 32.4 overs (Najibullah Zadran 43; Nuwan Pradeep 4/31, Lasith Malinga 3/39)

Result: Sri Lanka win by 34 runs (D/L method)

Man of the Match: Nuwan Pradeep

Points Table:

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