SRI LANKAN opener Pathum Nissanka plays a shot during the third One-day International against Afghanistan at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.—AFP
SRI LANKAN opener Pathum Nissanka plays a shot during the third One-day International against Afghanistan at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.—AFP

PALLEKELE: Sri Lanka completed a sweep of the three-match ODI series against Afghanistan, confidently beating the tourists in the final game by seven wickets on Wednesday at Pallekele.

Set a target of 267, Sri Lanka won with 88 balls remaining, as their domination of the opponents continued.

Opening batsman Pathum Nissanka smashed his fifth One-day International hundred and the second in the series for the hosts.

Roshan Mahanama had posted 267 runs in three ODIs against Zimbabwe in 1994, but Nissanka’s effort is now the highest by a distance.

Sri Lankan players pose with the series trophy after their victory at the third and final one-day international (ODI) cricket match between Sri Lanka and Afghanistan in the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium at Kandy on February 14, 2024.—AFP
Sri Lankan players pose with the series trophy after their victory at the third and final one-day international (ODI) cricket match between Sri Lanka and Afghanistan in the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium at Kandy on February 14, 2024.—AFP

It is also the fourth highest tally in a three-match series in the world.

Nissanka had posted an unbeaten 210 in the first game, becoming the first Sri Lankan to score a double hundred in ODI cricket.

He also became the fastest Sri Lankan to the 2,000 ODI runs milestone in just 52 innings — breaking the record of Upul Tharanga, who had required 63 innings for the feat.

Sri Lanka cruised to the target with the openers adding 173 runs for the first wicket in just 138 deliveries.

Avishka Fernando set the run chase up, reaching his half-century in just 24 balls, with consecutive sixes off Fareed Ahmad.

But he threw away his wicket just nine runs short of a century, and his 91 came off 66 balls with 10 fours and five monstrous sixes.

Nissanka was relatively slow off the blocks, reaching his half-century in 55 balls, but the next 50 came in just 34 balls as Afghanistan’s bowlers ran out of ideas.

Captain Kusal Mendis joined the party, racing to 40 from 29 balls with four sixes.

Nissanka was dismissed for 118 with just 14 runs needed for the win. He faced 101 balls and hit 16 fours and two sixes.

The tourists badly missed their two experienced spinners Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who are out injured.

After electing to bat first, Afghanistan’s effort was far from convincing, especially the collapse at the tail end of their innings.

At 223 for four heading into the last 10 overs, a total in excess of 300 was on the cards.

But they lost the last six wickets for just 43 runs, and were bowled out inside 50 overs.

Rahmat Shah (65) and Azmatullah Omarzai (54) posted half-centuries, giving Afghanistan a solid platform, but the middle order caved in without a fight.

Sri Lanka’s Pramod Madushan was the pick of the bowlers, finishing with three wickets, while Asitha Fernando, Dunith Wellalage and Akila Dananjaya finished with two wickets each.

Scoreboard

AFGHANISTAN:

R. Gurbaz b Dananjaya 48

I. Zadran run out 13

R. Shah lbw Wellalage 65

H. Shahidi c Nissanka b Dananjaya 5

A. Omarzai b AM. Fernando 54

I. Alikhil b Wellalage 32

M. Nabi c S’wickrama b Madushan 14

S. Ashraf c Asalanka b Madushan 4

Q. Ahmad c S’wickrama b Madushan 11

F. Malik b AM. Fernando 5

F. Farooqi not out 0

EXTRAS (LB-5, NB-1, W-9) 15

TOTAL (all out, 48.2 overs) 266

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-39 (Zadran), 2-96 (Gurbaz), 3-108 (Shahidi), 4-166 (Shah), 5-223 (AliKhil), 6-237 (Omarzai), 7-250 (Ashraf), 8-255 (Nabi), 9-260 (Malik)

BOWLING: Madushanka 6-0-52-0 (4w, 1nb), Madushan 8.2-0-45-3 (2w), AM. Fernando 9-0-44-2, Wellalage 10-0-38-2, Liyanage 2-0-11-0, Dananjaya 10-0-54-2 (2w), Asalanka 3-0-17-0

SRI LANKA:

P. Nissanka c Nabi b Ahmad 118

A. Fernando c Ashraf b Ahmad 91

K. Mendis b Nabi 40

S. Samarawickrama not out 8

C. Asalanka not out 7

EXTRAS (NB-2, W-1) 3

TOTAL (for 3 wickets, 35.2 overs) 267

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-173 (A. Ferna­ndo), 2-251 (Mendis), 3-253 (Nissanka) DID NOT BAT: J. Liyanage, D. Wellalage, A. Dananjaya, AM. Fernando, P. Madushan, D. Madushanka

BOWLING: Farooqi 5-0-54-0 (1w), Omarzai 4-0-29-0, Ashraf 6-0-47-0 (1nb), Malik 4-0-45-0 (1nb), Nabi 9.2-0-46-1, Ahmad 7-0-46-2

RESULT: Sri Lanka won by seven wickets.

SERIES: Sri Lanka won the three match series 3-0.

PLAYER-OF-THE-MATCH: Pathum Nissanka

PLAYER-OF-THE-SERIES: Pathum Nissanka

Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2024

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