Charith Asalanka's flamboyant knock (97* off 74) and Wanindu Hasaranga's scathing spell (4-27) were the major highlights as Sri Lanka hammered Afghanistan by 155 runs in the second ODI at Pallekele on Sunday (February 11). The result meant that Sri Lanka have sealed the series with a game to spare. Sri Lanka also had three other half-centurions in their innings - Kusal Mendis (61 off 65), Sadeera Samarawickrama (52 off 61) and Janith Liyanage (50 off 48) - as they produced a strong batting effort. Afghanistan did threaten to make a fist of the game through fifties from Rahmat Shah and Ibrahim Zadran but once the partnership was broken, the innings fell apart.
Earlier in the afternoon, Sri Lanka put on another solid batting show, albeit not as explosive as their efforts in the last game. The surface too seemed to be a slightly drier deck, meaning that it wasn't going to be all slam-bang. Afghanistan's bowling was disciplined early on and were rewarded with the wickets of the Sri Lankan openers inside the first ten overs. However, Mendis and Samarawickrama stitched a century stand to put the innings back on track. Some of the strokemaking in the partnership was of the highest order but just when the duo threatened to hit top gear, both batters fell in quick succession.
Afghanistan sensed an opportunity to cut through Sri Lanka's batting order but Asalanka and Liyanage had other ideas. Through some calculative batting and smart shot-selection, they kept the scoreboard ticking, adding 111 at better than run-a-ball. Liyanage played second fiddle as Asalanka went through the gears to find the fence frequently. Even after the former's dismissal, Hasaranga chipped in with a cameo although it was Asalanka who did the heavy-lifting at the back end. The left-hander fell narrowly short of a deserving ton but ensured that the hosts had posted a competitive total.
In reply, Afghanistan did well to not lose a cluster of wickets upfront. Rahmanullah Gurbaz fell early after a scratchy stay at the crease but Zadran and Shah batted solidly to stitch a century stand. The pace of scoring wasn't electric but their intention to take the game deep was understandable, given the torrid collapse by the top order in the last game. Their half-centuries steadily gave the platform for the visitors but both fell at a time when they needed to step on a gear to keep the chase alive. Asitha Fernando got rid of Zadran while Hasaranga then deceived Shah to open up the Afghanistan batting order.
Such was the drastic nature of the collapse that Afghanistan's innings lasted just 45 deliveries after the second-wicket stand was broken. Hasaranga sliced through the middle order while Asitha and Dilshan Madushanka picked up two wickets apiece. What promised to be a closer run chase than the opening game ended up being a far more one-sided contest in the end.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 309/6 in 50 overs (Charith Asalanka 97*, Kusal Mendis 61, Sadeera Samarawickrama 52; Azmatullah Omarzai 3-56) beat Afghanistan 153 in 33.5 overs (Rahmat Shah 63, Ibrahim Zadran 54; Wanindu Hasaranga 4-27) by 155 runs.