Setting a goal of 269, Afghanistan achieved it with 19 deliveries, taking the lead in the first match of a three-game one-day international series.
Ibrahim Zadran was the hero for the visitors, scoring 98. The starting batter took over for the Sri Lankan Twix during Power Play, when he scored a half-century in just 35 balls.
Zadran, a 21-year-old right-handed batter, settled down after fielding restrictions and along with Rahmat Shah scored 146 runs for the second wicket, and the Afghans proved Sri Lanka’s total of 268 was well below par.
Kasoon Rajitha interrupted this encounter by catching Zadran at deep mid-wicket, and he was just two runs short of his fourth hundred in ODIs.
Zadran’s 98 runs came on 98 balls, with 11 hits coming at the rope and two behind it.
Sri Lanka also struck out Rahmat Shah for 55 as Matisha Patirana scored his first wicket for ODI. But Hashmatullah Shahidi’s 38 points ended the game for his team.
The Afghan captain shared 42 runs for the fourth wicket with Mohammad Nabi, who remained 27 not out.
Sri Lanka brought in the experienced Dimuth Karunaratne and Angelo Mathews for ODIs to solve the team’s batting problems.
But it was back to square one: the team dropped to 84-4, and Mathews (12) and Karunaratne (4) were unable to contribute much.
Charit Asalanka held off the Sri Lankan innings, making his seventh half-century and scoring 91 of 95 runs with 12 foursomes. He was well supported by Dhananjaya de Silva (51) as they shared a 99-run partnership for the fifth wicket. But Sri Lanka needed much more.
Asalanka’s strike was some consolation for the Sri Lankans, but the former world champions need the senior players to put their hands up as there were too many soft removals.
Afghanistan, which had already qualified for the World Cup in India later this year, was without star bowler Rashid Khan, who dropped out because of a lower back sprain. But their bowlers responded well, keeping Sri Lanka low by reducing the work of the batters.