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Sri Lanka recorded a thrilling victory against Afghanistan in the third ODI to avoid a series loss at home. Young batter Ibrahim Zadran smashed 162 runs off just 138 balls and Najibullah Zadran contributed 77 runs to help Afghanistan score a big total of 313/8 while batting first. But despite some impressive bowling displays, Afghanistan failed to defend the total as the hosts managed to pull off a thrilling four-wicket win with just two balls remaining.
Afghanistan skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi won the toss and elected to bat first with 17-year-old spinner Noor Ahmad making his ODI debut. Sri Lanka also made two changes with Asitha Fernando and Dunith Wellalage replacing Lahiru Kumara and Dhananjaya Lakshan respectively.
Kasun Rajitha gave Sri Lanka an early success with opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz’s wicket in the innings’ third over. In-form duo of Rahmat Shah and Ibrahim Zadran looked confident for big knocks with a 41-run partnership for the second wicket but Rajitha took Rahmat’s valuable wicket to create some pressure on Afghanistan.
But Ibrahim and Najibullah Zadran dominated the middle overs with a big 154-run partnership to put Afghanistan on track for a big total. Najibullah scored crucial 77 runs off 76 balls before getting caught out on Wanindu Hasaranga’s delivery in the 38th over. But Ibrahim continued his red-hot form and smashed his second hundred in this series. He scored 162 runs off 138 balls to guide Afghanistan to a big total of 313/8 and got caught out on innings’ last ball. For Sri Lanka, Rajitha took three while Hasaranga grabbed two wickets.
Charith Asalanka and Kusal Mendis shine in Sri Lanka’s chase
Sri Lankan openers Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Mendis started well with a big 101-run partnership for the first wicket. Nissanka scored 35 runs off 55 to ensure Sri Lanka’s good start while Mendis smashed crucial 67 runs off just 61 balls. Star spinner Rashid Khan gave Afghanistan an opening they needed in the 18th over with Kusal’s valuable wicket and Sri Lanka struggled by losing two more wickets in quick succession.
But Charith Assalanka and captain Dasun Shanaka kept the hosts alive in their chase with a 79-run partnership for the fifth wicket. Rashid bowled out Shanaka, who scored 43 runs off 44 balls, in the 42nd over to take the game to a thrilling end.
But Asalanka and the 19-year-old Dunith Wellalage played some brilliant cricket to keep Sri Lanka on track in their chase. Wellalage smashed three fours in the 49th over and added one six in the 50th over to drag the hosts closer to the target. But it was Asalanka who smashed a winning six when Sri Lanka needed six runs to win from the last three balls. Wellalage smashed 31* and Assalanka played a match-winning knock of 83 runs off just 72 balls to guide Sri Lanka to a four-wicket win with just two balls remaining.
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