Catch miss is match miss. Afghanistan reminded the old story again today. Except for the catch that played a major role in the team’s loss to Sri Lanka in the first match of the Asia Cup Super Four. Sri Lanka set a new T20 International run chase record in Sharjah. The previous record also belongs to Sri Lanka. They won the T20 World Cup last year by chasing 171 runs against Bangladesh.
A target of 176 runs. Sri Lanka lost the third wicket for 94 runs in the third ball of the 12th over. The last ball of the over by Mohammad Nabi could have cost the Lankans another wicket. Danuska Gunatilka took the catch, fine leg fielder Karim Janat how he not only dropped the easy catch but also made the boundary. Gunatilka, who got life for 13 runs, added another 20 runs after getting life.
The Afghans were caught again in the last ball of the 16th over. This time Bhanuka Rajapaksha survived thanks to Samiullah Shinwari. Batting with 21 runs in 8 balls, Rajapaksa scored 10 runs in the next 6 balls.
Although Gunatilka-Rajapaksha could not stay at the end, Sri Lanka did not have to struggle to avenge the loss in the first round by winning the first match of the Super Four. The ‘hosts’ Lankans won by 4 wickets with 5 balls in hand.
Opener Kushal Mendis scored 36 off 19 balls in Sri Lanka’s innings. His partner Pathum Nishanka made 35 off 28 balls in an opening partnership of 62 runs. Apart from this, Gunatilka (33 from 20 balls) and Rajapakshe (31 from 14 balls) who survived only by taking the catch, crossed 30. Wanindu Hasaranga scored 16 runs off 9 balls after the Rajapaksera departed.
Earlier, Afghans made 175 runs for 6 wickets. Almost half of the runs are Rahmanullah Gurbaz. The Afghan opener returned with 84 runs despite raising the possibility of a century. Gurbaz scored 6 sixes in just 45 balls.
In the 8th run, Gurbaz took the catch and got a six as the fielder stepped on the boundary cushion. The umpires brought him back after seeing the replay. From there, the 20-year-old batsman returned with 84 runs.
Sharjah’s wicket in this match was comparatively more batting friendly than the previous day’s match between Pakistan and Hong Kong, although the ball was falling low at times. Afghanistan’s left-handed opener Hazratullah Zazai could not match that. Dilshan Madushankar failed to play a cross shot after a while, and he had to return after being bowled, scoring 13 runs from 16 balls. Afghanistan scored 49 runs in 6 overs of Powerplay after losing Jazai’s wicket.
Despite the return of Jazai, Sri Lanka could not quickly stop Gurbaz. However, they bowled tight in 4 overs at 9 to 12, and scored 25 runs without any boundaries at that time. Captain Dasun Shanaka scored 16 runs in the 13th over, Chamika Karunaratne scored 21 runs in the next over. In the 15th over, Wanindu Hasaranga pulled off the momentum with just 6 runs. Gurbaz came back under pressure, picking up Asita Fernando with a catch at mid-wicket. His partnership with Ibrahim Zadran made 83 runs off 63 balls.
All this time, Ibrahim was doing the work of accompanying Gurbaz. Madushanka’s slower scoop attempt to pick up the pace failed, he returned with 40 runs off 38 balls. Najibullah Zadran, who was on fire against Bangladesh, hit a four-six each, scoring 17 runs from 10 balls, but he had to stop in a run-out. Tikshana gave only 3 runs in 19th over, he took 2 wickets for 29 runs in 4 overs. Rashid Khan hit Asita Fernando for a six in the last over, but not more than 9 runs. Madushanka was Sri Lanka’s best bowler with 2 wickets for 37 runs. Wanindu Hasaranga did not get a wicket, but the leg-spinner conceded just 23 runs in 4 overs.