Sri Lanka recouped from a pronounced batting collapse to thump Afghanistan for 152 and seal a 34-run victory for its first win at the World Cup, on Tuesday.
The Sri Lankans imploded from 144/1 to 201 all out in an innings delayed by almost three hours in the light of downpour at Sophia Gardens in the Welsh capital.
Chasing an amended target of 187 runs from a maximum of 41 overs, owing to the D/L method, Afghanistan dropped from 34/0 to 57/5 and then stitched a little come back through a 64-run partnership between Gulbadin Naib (23) and Najibullah Zadran (43).
Sri Lanka again came back strong and took the last five wickets for just 31 runs, with recalled pace bowler Nuwan Pradeep, who was left out of the previous game against New Zealand, getting 4/31.
The 1996 World Cup champs had lost their opening game to New Zealand by 10 wickets. Afghanistan now have two defeats from two matches, after being outplayed by Australia on Saturday.
The error-studded match in Cardiff saw a staggering 52 extras — and Sri Lanka’s 35 was the second-highest score on the scorecard — which went on to indicate that both teams were actually fighting to avoid the last place in the tournament featuring 10 teams.
The Afghans’ maiden and only success at a World Cup remains the one over Scotland in 2015. However, they will feel that this match slipped from their grip, particularly when Sri Lanka were reeling at 159/6 after three wickets in one over from Mohammad Nabi.
Sri Lanka, who had a superb start, in fact the quickest 10-over start in the competition by hustling to 79/0, lost its last nine wickets for 57 runs in just 15.4 overs. To come back from there and win the game will give them a lot of confidence going ahead in the tournament.
Sri Lanka 201 (36.5 overs)
Dimuth Karunaratne 30 (45 balls) Mohabbad Nabi 4/30 (9 overs)
Kusal Perera 78 (81 balls) Rashid Khan 2/17 (9 overs)
Afghanistan 152 (32.4 overs)
Najibullah Zadran 43 (56) Lasith Malinga 3/39 (6.4 overs)
Hazratullah Zazai 30 (25) Nuwan Pradeep 4/31 (9 overs)