Asia Cup 2018: Rahmat lifts Afghans despite Thisara's five wickets

Asia Cup 2018: Rahmat lifts Afghans despite Thisaras five wickets

Abu Dhabi - The secret to Afghanistan's batting success on Monday was in their opening partnership.

By Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Mon 17 Sep 2018, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Tue 18 Sep 2018, 1:45 AM

Thisara Perera's first five-wicket haul since 2012 couldn't prevent the gusty Afghanistan from putting up a spirited show with the bat in their Group B Asia Cup encounter at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
The Afghans were magnificent after their skipper Mohammad Asghar Khan won the toss and decided to bat on a slow surface.
Even when Thisara bowled No 11 Mujeeb ur Rahman - the last of his three victims in the last over -- with a perfect yorker to complete his fourth five-wicket haul in the final delivery of the innings, the Afghans spectators were singing and dancing in the stands as they felt their team's total of 249 all out could prove to be enough against the islanders.
With the sun beating down on the players in the afternoon, it's the Afghanistan openers - Mohammad Shahzad and Insanullah Janat - that turned up the heat on Angelo Mathews's beleaguered team.
Sri Lanka, who suffered a humiliating 137-run defeat in their first match against Bangladesh, now have to be on top of their game against two talented Afghan spinners - Rashid Khan and Mujeeb.
Afghanistan's own top-order flourished, but none shone brighter than Rahmat Shah (72, 90 balls, five fours) whose 12th half century in one-day cricket gave Sri Lanka a massive challenge to keep their chances alive in the tournament.
The secret to Afghanistan's batting success on Monday was in their opening partnership.
Shahzad (34, 47 balls, 4 fours, 1 six) and Insanullah (45, 65 balls, 6 fours) handled Sri Lanka's best bowler Lasith Malinga remarkably well.
The two openers were not afraid of playing their shots and their 57-run first wicket partnership in 11.4 overs gave Afghanistan the start they needed.
But off spinner Akila Dananjaya, who missed Sri Lanka's first match in the tournament to attend the birth of his son, sent back the Afghan openers with two lbw decisions.
Captain Asghar then fell to Shehan Jayasuriya, but Rahmat was defiant in the middle overs and he found the perfect partner in Hasmatullah Shaidi (37, 52 balls, 2 fours).
The two middle-order batsmen refused to go for the jugular.
Instead, they concentrated on picking the singles and turning the ones into twos cleverly against the tiring Sri Lankan fielders.
Their 80-run partnership for the fourth wicket was finally broken when Rehmat fell to Dushmantha Chameera in the 42nd over.
The Sri Lankan bowlers then kept the pressure on the Afghan lower-order by taking wickets at regular intervals, but the newest Test-playing country still managed to end their innings on a high.

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