The Telegraph
Tuesday , March 4 , 2014
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Lanka book final berth
- Afghans crash to a 129-run defeat; Kumar scores 76

Kumar Sangakkara on way to his 76, in Mirpur, on Monday

Mirpur: In-form Sri Lanka sailed into the summit clash of the Asia Cup cricket tournament with a resounding 129-run victory over minnows Afghanistan, here on Monday.

Opting to bat, the islanders rode on Kumar Sangakkara’s patient 76 and captain Angelo Mathews’ breezy 41-ball 45 to post a competitive 253/6 at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium.

In reply, Afghanistan were bundled out for 124 in 38.4 overs, sealing Sri Lanka’s place in the final of the five-nation continental tournament, and further diminishing India’s chances.

India have lost two of their three matches and need to win with a bonus point against Afghanistan and hope that Bangladesh score an upset victory over Pakistan in their last respective round-robin matches.

Afghanistan’s run-chase never really got the momentum as they lost wickets at regular intervals, slipping to 73 for five in the 21st over.

Their batting was in stark contrast to the efforts put in by the Afghan bowlers, who kept the free-flowing Lankan batsmen in check for a major part of their innings before Mathews let loose.

Sangakkara, though, was the man who kept the Lankan innings afloat when the going got difficult. Afghan captain Mohammed Nabi contributed 37, while Noor Ali Zadran (21) and Asghar Stanikzai (27) got out after getting decent starts. Nabi hit three fours and a six during his 40-ball knock.

The rest of the batting just caved in without putting up any sort of resistance — a far cry from their outing against hosts Bangladesh, who were humbled by the spirited strife-torn nation a couple of days ago.

Among the wickets for Sri Lanka were Ajantha Mendis (3/11), Thisara Perera (3/29) and Chaturanga de Silva (2/29), who proved to be handful for the Afghani batsmen.

Meanwhile, after the match MoM Sangakkara said that the wicket was a bit difficult to bat on and lauded his partners to keep him company at the crease.

“It was a bit of a tough wicket to bat on, and so I had to spend some time to get set and then try and build the foundation. Angelo batted really well.

“Dinesh Chandimal batted really well with me. Kusal Perera gave us another good start. So overall, it was a good workout for us but there are a few areas to tighten up,” said Sangakkara. (PTI)