x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Sri Lanka secure return to Asia Cup final with rout of Afghanistan

Afghanistan fail to build on highest-profile ODI victory

Sri Lanka’s Thisara Perera, centre, celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Afghanistan’s Nawroz Mangal during their Asia Cup match in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on March 3, 2014. A M Ahad / AP Photo
Sri Lanka’s Thisara Perera, centre, celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Afghanistan’s Nawroz Mangal during their Asia Cup match in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on March 3, 2014. A M Ahad / AP Photo

MIRPUR, Bangladesh // Ajantha Mendis and Thisara Perera snared six wickets and Kumar Sangakkara hit a half-century as Sri Lanka reached the Asia Cup final with a 129-run win over Afghanistan on Monday.

Mendis took three for 11 with his unorthodox spin and Perera bowled a miserly 10 overs for his three for 29 to have Afghanistan all out for 124 with more than 11 overs to spare after Sangakkara’s 76 off 102 balls had lifted Sri Lanka to 253 for six.

After their third successive victory, Sri Lanka booked a berth in Saturday’s final with 13 points, including a bonus point after their emphatic win yesterday.

Captain Mohammad Nabi top scored for Afghanistan with 37 but, in a dramatic collapse, the team lost their last five wickets for only three runs just a day after achieving their highest-profile one-day international victory.

“It was a very important game for us because we had to book our place in the final,” said Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews, who scored an unbeaten 45 off 41 balls to boost the total.

“They have a very good bowling attack and our batsmen found it hard, it was a slow pitch, too.”

Afghanistan’s Asghar Stanikazi showed a bit of spark by hitting five boundaries in his 27 before the innings crumbled against Perera and Mendis.

Nabi and Najibullah Zadran (11) put on 48 runs for the sixth wicket before spinner Chaturanga de Silva (2-29) and Mendis polished off the innings in quick time.

“We bowled brilliantly in the first 35 overs and Sangakkara played very well,” Nabi said. “We started well with the bat, but then Mendis bowled brilliantly.”

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