ANI Photo | Afghanistan avoid T20I series whitewash with 3-run win over Sri Lanka

Kamindu Mendis and Pathum Nissanka’s heroics went in vain as Afghanistan avoided a whitewash with a 3-run win in the third T20I against Sri Lanka at Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium on Wednesday.
Sri Lanka fought hard, matched Afghanistan with the same amount of intensity, Kamindu Mendis sent the final ball of the game straight to the stands but it wasn’t enough to guide the hosts to victory.
The most controversial moment of the game came on the fourth ball of the final over. Wafadar Momand bowled a full toss, Mendis stepped out of the crease as the ball flew past his shoulders. He asked the umpire for a no-ball but the signal never came and Sri Lanka didn’t receive a single run.
While the no-ball incident played a role in Sri Lanka’s loss, the underwhelming performances from the middle order played a crucial role in their downfall.
While chasing a mammoth total of 210, Pathum Nissanka provided a blistering start to the hosts and attacked Wafadar Momand in the powerplay. Kusal Mendis struck a six and a four but then lost his wicket to Fareed Ahmad in the final ball of the powerplay.
Nissanka scored a half-century and continued his onslaught. He smoked the ball for a six, over deep mid-wicket. Nissanka instantly held his hamstring after playing the shot and walked off the field with a score of 60.
With wickets falling on one end, Mendis continued to steer Sri Lanka towards victory. With 19 runs needed in the final over, Mendis struck two fours and a maximum but still the hosts ended up losing by 3 runs. The left-handed batter stayed unbeaten with a score of 65 off 39 deliveries. With this win the series ended on 2-1.
Earlier in the innings, Afghanistan skipper Ibrahim Zadran won the toss and elected to bat. Zazai and Gurbaz made a solid start, with Zazai smashing Matheesha Pathirana for three boundaries in the fourth over.
At the end of the powerplay, Afghanistan was 72/0, having reached the 50-run mark in just four overs.
Akila Dhananjaya trapped Zazai leg-before-wicket, removing him for 45 in 22 balls, with six fours and two sixes. Afghanistan was 88/1 in 7.2 overs.
Afghanistan reached the 100-run mark in 8.3 overs. Gurbaz reached his half-century in just 28 balls, with six fours and a six.
Skipper Ibrahim Zadran could not stick around for long, falling to Dhananjaya for just 10, reducing Afghanistan to 113/2 in 10.2 overs.
Azmatullah Omarzai was the next up on the crease and he and Gurbaz kept the scoreboard going until Wanindu Hasaranga got the all-important scalp of Gurbaz for 70 in 43 balls, with seven fours and a six. Afghanistan was 141/3 in 13.5 overs.
Omarzai kept the scoreboard ticking over, with Pathirana getting his and Karim Janat’s wicket. Afghanistan was 182/5 in 18.2 overs.
Mohammad Nabi and Mohammad Ishaq (16* each) kept the scoreboard moving well in the final two overs, helping the team touch the 200-run mark in 19.5 overs.
Afghanistan ended at 209/5 in 20 overs. Dhananjaya and Pathirana took two wickets each while Hasaranga got one.
Brief Score: Afghanistan 209/5 (Rahmanullah Gurbaz 70, Hazratullah Zazai 45; Hazratullah Zazai 2-37) vs Sri Lanka 206/6 (Pathum Nissanka retired hurt 60, Kamindu Mendis 65*; Mohammad Nabi 2-35). (ANI)

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