Sri Lanka outsmarted Afghanistan to win the opening match of the Super 4 stage by four wickets at the Asia Cup 2022 on Saturday.
Danushka Gunathilaka (33) and Bhanuka Rajapaksa (31) profited from dropped catches to carry Sri Lanka to a winning 179-6 with five balls to spare and avenged a heavy loss to the Afghans in the group stage.
Afghanistan, which was put in to bat, rode on opening batter Rahmanullah Gurbaz’s fabulous 84 off 45 balls before Sri Lanka pulled them back in the death overs to restrict them to 175-6.
Sri Lanka’s aggressive approach in the run chase paid dividends as Kusal Mendis (36) and Pathum Nissanka (35) provided a whirlwind start of 62 off 39 balls. Mendis hit two sixes against key spinner Rashid Khan in the powerplay.
Rashid had a rare off day in a Twenty20; the legspinner conceded 39 runs off his four overs before clean bowling Gunathilaka in his last over.
Both Sri Lanka opening batters perished in the space of three overs, but Gunathilaka and Rajapaksa continued to dominate to chase down a big total in a second successive match.
India and Pakistan meet on Sunday.