Asia Cup: Team's morale is high, says Afghan captain Nabi after beating Sri Lanka

Afghanistan beat Sri Lanka by eight wickets in the opening game on Saturday



Rahmanullah Gurbaz of Afghanistan plays a shot during the match against Sri Lanka at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Saturday. (Photo by M. Sajjad)
Rahmanullah Gurbaz of Afghanistan plays a shot during the match against Sri Lanka at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Saturday. (Photo by M. Sajjad)
by

James Jose

Published: Sun 28 Aug 2022, 12:56 AM

Opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz conjured an explosive knock after fast bowler Fazalhaq Farooqi’s twin strikes in the opening over of the tournament, to help Afghanistan defeat Sri Lanka in the opening game of the Asia Cup on Saturday.

The 20-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman smoked four sixes and three boundaries in his 18-ball 40 as Afghanistan won the Group B fixture by a comprehensive margin of eight wickets and with 59 balls remaining at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

Gurbaz’s opening partner Hazratullah Zazai scored an unbeaten 37 from 28 deliveries with five boundaries and a six.

Earlier, Fazalhaq Farooqi snared three wickets for 11, while off-spinners, captain Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, took two wickets apiece.

“It is a big win for the nation,” Farooqi said at the post-match presentation.

“My plan was simple, to get a breakthrough for my team. With the new ball I am trying to bowl good deliveries. After that I can bowl yorkers at the death too so I am comfortable with both," he added.

Meanwhile, Nabi said that morale of the team is high after such a big win.

“The boys played really well, especially the fast bowler Farooqi,” said Nabi.

“When we decided to bowl first, it worked. I just discussed in the meeting that we bowl line and length. And if we get swing, then we attack. And the openers, they played really well and gave a confident start to the team. The morale of the team is high and hopefully we will do well in the next game as well,” he added.

Sri Lankan captain Dasun Shanaka, who fell for a first-ball duck, said that they have to put this disappointing loss behind them quickly and focus on the next game against Bangladesh.

"There are two ways of thinking. As batters, we should bat according to the wicket every time,” sad Shanaka.

“There was a bit of grass, so it wasn't very helpful for our spinners. But they are world-class spinners who can execute in any condition. Look, in T20 cricket, these things can happen but we need to jump out of this situation, win the next game, and qualify for the next phase," he added.

Earlier, Farooqi snapped up three wickets as Afghanistan restricted Sri Lanka to 105.

The only bright spot for Sri Lanka was Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who made a defiant 38 from 29 deliveries with five boundaries and a six, after Farooqi’s twin strikes in the first over of the match.

Chamika Karunaratne scored 31 from 38 balls with three boundaries and a six, while Danushka Gunathilaka made a run-a-ball 17 with three boundaries.

Afghanistan take on Bangladesh in their next match at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Tuesday, while Sri Lanka meet Bangladesh in Dubai on Thursday.


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