Asalanka’s unbeaten 97, middle order contributions lift Sri Lanka to 308

Charith Asalanka smashed an unbeaten 97 off just 74 balls (Cricinfo)

Sri Lanka put up 308 for 6 on the back of half-centuries from four batters in the second ODI against Afghanistan, but it was also an innings aided by a careless display in the field by Afghanistan.

Charith Asalanka put on the finishing touches on a slow burn outing, ending unbeaten on a 74-ball 97. It was his stand of 50 from 32 alongside Wanindu Hasaranga that pushed Sri Lanka’s total beyond 300 – a good recovery after Afghanistan had looked to throttle the middle overs.

After the first game in which Pathum Nissanka had done most of the heavy lifting, this time out it was the turn of the Sri Lankan middle order to turn provider as along with Asalanka, Kusal Mendis, Sadeera Samarawickrama and Janith Liyanage all struck fifties.

Anchoring the innings though was a pair of century partnerships – the first between Mendis and Samarawickrama, the second Liyanage and Asalanka – before the final Asalanka-Hasaranga flourish put an accent on proceedings as Sri Lanka scored 96 runs in the final 10 overs.

Azmatullah Omarzai was the pick of the Afghan bowlers with figures of 3 for 56, but Fazalhaq Farooqi will feel hard done not to have more to his name with no less than three catches spilled off his bowling. Farooqi along with Noor Ahmad and Qais Ahmad ended with a wicket apiece.

Having won the toss and elected to bat, Nissanka looked in good touch as he had left off striking three boundaries in his 17-ball 18, but his onslaught was cut short when he came down late on one full and straight from Omarzai. Despite it heading into the middle of middle, Nissanka eventually looked to review the lbw call, but fortunately for him and Sri Lanka he failed to do so within the 15-second window.

An out-of-sorts Avishka fell a few overs later, edging a back-of-a-length ball angling across, straight to point – starkly reminiscent of his three dismissals in the recent series against Zimbabwe.

This brought together Mendis and Samarawickrama, who rebuilt with boundaries only serving as an avenue to release the rising pressure. Mendis was also given an early reprieve, a soft chance spilled by Gulbadin Naib at short midwicket.

But just as they looked to up the scoring, Samarawickrama lobbed one to mid-off stationed on the edge of the circle. One brought two as Mendis pulled one straight to deep square leg the very next over.

Suddenly Sri Lanka were midway through the 29th over with two new batters at the crease, and so Asalanka and Liyanage proceeded to rebuild once more. With the run rate hovering around the five-over mark the pair took the game towards the 40th over before finally switching gears.

Both Asalanka and Liyanage took turns going after the bowling, the latter even bringing up his fifty with a lofted six down the ground. He fell one ball later, caught at long-on looking to go big once more, but Asalanka hung around to ensure Sri Lanka had a competitive total to defend.

Brief scores:
Sri Lanka 308 for 6 in 50 overs (Charith Asalanka 97*, Kusal  Mendis 61, Sadeera Samarawickrema 52, Janith Liyanage 50; Azmatullah Omarzai 3-56) vs  Afghanistan


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