Afghanistan gave a glimpse of their readiness for the ICC World Cup 2023 with an all-round show, first with the ball in which veteran off-spinner Mohammed Nabi triggered a mini collapse to reduce Sri Lanka from a comfortable 240/2 to 298 all out, and later with the bat, as Rahmanullah Gurbaz (119 retd) and Rahmat Shah (93 retd) shared a 212-run second wicket stand to power the side to a six-wicket win by DLS method in their warm up contest here.
Put in to bat, Sri Lanka started on a brisk note with Pathum Nissanka (30) getting some runs but Dimuth Karunaratne once again failed to make much impact. The arrival of stand-in skipper Kusal Mendis, however, changed the complexion of the match as Sri Lanka looked in total control with Mendis leading a scathing counterattack by punishing the Afghanistan bowlers all around the park.
In the process, he stitched up a brilliant 152-run partnership with Sadeera Samarawickrama (39) and put the Lankans in pole position. Mendis registered a stunning century and ultimately retired out on 158 runs off just 87 balls while his partner could not convert his start to a big score.
However, with Sri Lanka comfortably placed at 240 for 2, Nabi brought Afghanistan back into the game, grabbing four wickets to not only stifle the scoring but also ensured that the Sri Lankans were bowled out before batting the full 50 overs. Fazalhaq Farooqi, Rashid Khan, and Naveen-ul-Haq complimented Nabi well with one wicket each as the Islanders were bowled out in 46.2 overs.
In reply, Afghanistan’s chase was interrupted by rain early on, but in return they ensured the momentum wasn’t lost, with opener Rahmanullah slamming an outrageous 119 off 92 deliveries, laced with eight hits to the fence and nine over it. Rahmat Shah gave him good company at the other end, slamming 93 off 82 deliveries and hit 10 fours and three sixes, as the duo put on 212 runs for the second wicket to almost guide the side over the line.
By then, Sri Lanka hardly had any chances of a comeback, and the two new batters Najibullah Zadran (15 not out) and Azmatullah Omarzai (14 not out) ensured Afghanistan warmed up in style with almost two dozen overs to spare.