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Ibrahim, Farooqi help Afghans thrash Sri Lanka in ODI opener


KANDY, Sri Lanka: Opener Ibrahim Zadran’s sparkling century and four wickets by Fazalhaq Farooqi led Afghanistan to an emphatic 60-run win over Sri Lanka in the opening one-day international on Friday.

Afghanistan posted 294-8 after electing to bat as Ibrahim, who hit 106, put on key partnerships, including a 118-run second-wicket stand with Rahmat Shah, who made 52, in Pallekele.

Afghanistan’s Farooqi and fellow quick Gulbadin Naib shared seven wickets between them as the tourists bowled out Sri Lanka for 234.

Pathum Nissanka’s 85 and a threatening 66 by Wanindu Hasaranga went in vain as Afghanistan ended the Sri Lankan innings in 38 overs. But it was the batting that set the tone for Afghanistan’s domination in the first ever bilateral ODI series between the two teams.

Ibrahim led the charge with his second ODI century and Najibullah Zadran’s 25-ball 42 boosted the total but some disciplined bowling in the end checked Afghanistan, who looked like getting over 300.

“The pitch was good for batting, I read the surface and took my time, and it worked,” man of the match Ibrahim said.

“The track remained the same throughout, we wanted to get to 320, that was the plan. Our bowlers did a great job.”

Rahmanullah Gurbaz justified captain Hashmatullah Shahidi’s decision to bat first as he hit a flurry of boundaries in his 53.

Ibrahim joined the attack as the two put on 84 runs to set the tone for the batting charge.

Cameos from Najibullah and Naib, who made 22 off 24 balls, took on the bowlers in the end but Sri Lanka gave away just 31 runs in the final five overs and took five wickets. Hasaranga returned impressive figures of 2-42 in his 10 overs.

The hosts started briskly but regular wickets hurt their progress with Naib picking two to rattle the top-order. Wickets kept falling and Hasaranga was the last man out to Farooqi, who finished with figures of 4-49.

The loss dented Sri Lanka’s chances of a direct qualification to the 50-over World Cup in India next year with crucial Super League points up for grabs in the series. — AFP

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