Sri Lanka thrash Afghanistan to clinch ODI series

The series may have started with an ominous-feeling six-wicket defeat, but Sri Lanka bounced back to complete a 2-1 series win beating Afghanistan by nine wickets in Hambantota. Sri Lanka's top three batsmen made the chase look as easy as the target suggested it should be, needing just 16 overs to score the 117 runs required for victory and handing Afghanistan their biggest ODI defeat in terms of balls remaining. Pathum Nissanka gave the hosts a quick start with 51 off 34 deliveries, striking two sixes to go with eight boundaries, as Sri Lanka reached 84 for no loss in 10 overs. Nissanka fell off the first delivery of the 11th over, trapped leg before wicket to Gulbadin Naib, but there were no further hiccoughs in the chase. Dimuth Karunaratne who scored his eighth ODI half-century finished on 52 not out, with Kusal Mendis unbeaten on 11. The ease for the Sri Lankan batsman was thanks to the efforts of their bowlers, who skittled the Afghanistanis out for 116, as fast bowlers Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara made early inroads, before spinners Wanindu Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana cleaned up the tail. It was Afghanistan's second lowest score batting first in an ODI. Chameera finished with 4 for 63 in nine overs, his figures blotted by some slogging towards the end of the innings, in an otherwise impressive bowling effort. Kumara accounted for two wickets for 29 runs in five overs, and Hasaranga taking 3 for 7 in 4.2 overs. Kumara made the first breakthrough in the second over, when Rahmanullah Gurbaz attempted a hook, but a top edge found Dimuth Karunaratne at fine leg instead. Three overs later, Rahmat Shah loosely swiped at a delivery wide of off-stump, edging a catch to wicket-keeper Kusal Mendis, the first of Chameera's wickets. The same combination accounted for the wicket of Afghan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi three balls later, Shahidi feathering a catch down the leg side. Match-winner in the first ODI Ibrahim Zadran was bowled for ten by Kumara, before Najibullah Zadran offered a catch off a leading edge to Wanindu Hasaranga at backward point, giving Chameera his third wicket -- Afghanistan losing half their side with 72 runs on the board at that stage. The situation didn't get any better for the visiting team, with Chameera trapping Mohammad Nabi leg before wicket in his next over, the batsman confirmed to be out by the smallest of margins, with the review indicating the ball just about clipping the leg stump. All-rounder Rashid Khan failed live up to his penchant as a big-hitter, trapped leg before wicket by Wanindu Hasaranga in the 16th over. The rest of Afghanistan's batting folded in the space of the next seven overs, adding just 36 runs, with Hasaranga taking two more wickets, and Maheesh Theekshana having Gulbadin Naib caught for 20.
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