ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 12th Match: Sri Lanka survive major scare to get first win

Jayawardene scored his 19th ODI century

Jayawardene scored his 19th ODI century

Image courtesy of: Zimbio

Sri Lanka overcame a major scare to beat a spirited Afghanistan side by four wickets in Dunedin.

Mahela Jayawardene and Thisara Perera starred with the bat for Sri Lanka as the former scored 100 and the latter made a crucial 47 not out.

However, Afghanistan batsman Asghar Stanikzai deserves a lot of credit for his valiant knock of 54.

Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews would have been thrilled with his decision to bowl first after he himself dismissed Afghanistan opener Nawroz Mangal for 10 runs.

Javed Ahmadi made 24 runs before he was caught by Rangana Herath at midwicket off the bowling of Suranga Lakmal.

Stanikzai and Samiullah Shenwari stabilised the innings with an 88-run partnership, during which Stanikzai brought up his half-century, before he was caught by Jeevan Mendis at cow corner off the bowling of Herath.

Stanikzai’s solid knock of 54 came off 57 balls and included five boundaries and one six.

Stanikzai made a gutsy 54

Stanikzai made a gutsy 54

Image courtesy of: Zimbio

Following Stanikzai’s dismissal, Afghanistan’s middle order collapsed as they went from 128/3 to 175/6.

However, Mirwais Ashraf and Afsar Zazai steadied the ship with a 46-run partnership before Ashraf was caught by Lakmal at long leg off the bowling of Lasith Malinga for 28.

Afghanistan’s collapse resumed after Ashraf was back in the pavilion as they went from 221/7 to being bowled out for 232.

Malinga and Mathews picked up three wickets apiece, while Lakmal snapped up two and Perera and Herath chipped in with one wicket apiece.

Chasing 233 to win, Sri Lanka got off to a terrible start as Lahiru Thirimanne, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Dimuth Karunaratne were all dismissed in quick succession.

Jayawardene and Mathews stemmed the bleeding with a 126-run partnership, during which Jayawardene registered his half-century, before Mathews was run out by Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi for 44.

Jayawardene ended up making 100, which came off 120 balls and included eight boundaries and a six, before he was caught by Mangal at third man off the bowling of Hamid Hassan.

Despite losing Mathews and Jayawardene, Perera and Mendis kept their cool and amassed an unbeaten 58-run partnership to lead Sri Lanka to victory with 10 balls to spare.

Perera finished on 47 off 26 balls, which included six boundaries and a six, while Mendis remained undefeated on nine.

Perera hammered six boundaries and a six during his unbeaten knock of 47

Perera hammered six boundaries and a six during his unbeaten knock of 47

Image courtesy of: Zimbio

Hassan was the most successful bowler with three wickets, while Dawlat Zadran and Shapoor Zadran claimed one wicket each.

Nabi was disappointed to have lost, and said: “The first 30 overs after the 15-over power play we didn’t play well. I felt we were short by 30-40 runs. We bowled really well in those first 10-15 overs, putting pressure on them in the end. We also missed out on a few run outs, but we definitely kept them to a tight game, so we are pleased. The way Mahela and Mathews played was brilliant, and they didn’t seem to have any pressure. I hope we play well in the next game as well. Both Dawlat and Shapoor bowled brilliantly, and hopefully they will be fitter for the next game too.”

Mathews was pleased with his team’s performance, and said: “Feeling a bit of relief [at the moment]. Thought we came back well after going down with a lot of pressure. We really need to raise our standards to compete against the top teams. It was a see-saw kind of game. They started off beautifully, and then we pulled it back in the end. I was actually struggling to time the ball, but I knew I had to stay out there with Mahela to get some kind of stand going. Those runs from Perera at the end were unbelievable. (Twitter question – How calming was Mahela?) We try to float him around in the middle if needed, or up the order if we require his sort of experience.”

Jayawardene was named Man of the Match, and said: “All credit to Afghanistan. Thought they batted really well in tough conditions, then followed it up beautifully with the ball. So feeling really relieved in the end to get over the line. They have the pace, the movement, and they are a handful. Not a big gap between the top countries and these guys. The wicket was looking a bit difficult, but when I joined Mathews it was important to try and hang in there and finish off the game. I thought Thisara played really well to finish it off for us. It was a bit of wait after the first game, but we do have two quick games coming up, so we are looking to get prepared for those.”

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