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Sri Lanka openers take command in Afghanistan Test

By AFP

February 2, 2024 07:50 PM


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Sri Lanka openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Nishan Madushka put on 80 quick runs in the first day's final session to unnerve Afghanistan in their one-off Test Friday.

The rapid partnership between Karunaratne (42) and Madushka (36) in the last 14 overs of the day left Sri Lanka trailing by 118 but the tourists wicketless.

They reached stumps in Colombo with a 5.71 run rate, vindicating new captain Dhananjaya de Silva's pledge to pursue an aggressive strategy.

Afghanistan were all out for 198 after tea with left-arm seamer Vishwa Fernando taking four wickets and three apiece from spinner Prabath Jayasuriya and medium paceman Asitha Fernando.

The tourists were 109-2 after mainstay Rahmat Shah steadied them after a shaky start but Sri Lanka's bowlers began to make inroads after lunch.

Vishwa found sideways deliveries to trouble the Afghans, who lost their last six wickets for 43 runs -- Asitha clearing the final two in three deliveries.

"We have got off to a good start," Vishwa told reporters.

"We need to bat for two days and get a big lead and then we have the spinners to bowl them out in the second innings."

Rahmat, Afghanistan's most experienced player who has featured in all their previous seven Tests, top-scored with an aggressive 91 that featured 13 boundaries.

A terrific one-handed catch from Sadeera Samarawickrama sent Rahmat back after a failed paddle sweep on a ball pitched on off-stump by Jayasuriya.

Vishwa took a good return catch to dismiss opening batsman Noor Ali Zadran for 31, breaking his 57-run stand for the second wicket with Rahmat.

"The wicket wasn't favouring seamers as much as we thought it would," Vishwa said.

"We told ourselves that we will just bowl good lines and wait till the batsmen make the mistake."

Noor was making his debut at the unusual age of 35.

Nisha Madushka at gully took a low catch to dismiss Ikram Alikhil for 21.

Opener Ibrahim Zadran fell for a duck in the day's second ball.

The match, which is not part of the World Test Championship (WTC), will be followed by three ODIs in Kandy and three T20 matches in Dambulla.

Sri Lanka have a full tour slate for the year including a three-Test series in England.

De Silva was appointed Sri Lanka's captain last month and is aiming to lift the team's Test rankings after they slipped to eighth last week.


AFP


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