An unbeaten partnership of 111 runs for the fourth wicket between skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi (58 not out) and Azmatullah Omarzai (73 not out) after a superb bowling performance helped Afghanistan defeat Sri Lanka by seven wickets and cause a third upset in the ICC Men's ODI World Cup on Monday.
Afghanistan, who had already defeated defending champion England and neighbours Pakistan earlier in the tournament, chased a target of 242 to cause another upset and moved up to fifth position in the points table with six points from three wins in six matches.
Afghanistan came up with another clinical performance and thus moved close to a spot in the semifinals.
After pacers Fazalhaq Farooqi (4-34) and Mujeeb Ur Rahman (2-38) helped Afghanistan bundle out Sri Lanka for 241. Rahmat Shah. Hashmatullah Shahidi and Azmatullah Omarzai scored half-centuries in a solid performance with the bat as they reached 242/3 in 45.2 overs to register a seven-wicket win.
Afghanistan suffered an early setback when Rahmanullah Gurbaz, their best batter so far in this World Cup, was out in the first over for a zero with just one run on the board.
Ibrahim Zadran (39) and Rahmat Shah (62) raised 72 runs for the second wicket as Rahmat Shah completed his fifty in 61 balls, hitting five boundaries.
Zadran was out in the 17th over but Rahmat Shah and skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi raised 58 runs for the third wicket, taking Afghanistan to 131 before Rahmat Shah was caught by Karunaratne off Rajitha cross-seamer that landed on good length, his knock of 62 coming off 74 balls. He struck seven boundaries during his knock.
Shahidi dropped anchor and with help from Azmatullah Omarzai, who blasted a 63-ball 73, hitting six fours and three sixes. Both of them raised 111 runs for the unfinished fourth-wicket partnership to guide
Afghanistan to another memorable victory.
Shahidi completed his fifty off 60 deliveries, hitting one four and one six while Omarzai: reached the landmark in 50 balls, hitting two boundaries and three maximums.
Earlier, electing to bowl first, Farooqi made the breakthrough for Afghanistan when he trapped Dimuth Karunaratne in front of the wicket for 15 as Sri Lanka lost their first wicket with 22 runs on the board.
Pathum Nissanka (46) and skipper Kusal Mendis (39) raised 62 runs for the second wicket at a slow pace as Sri Lanka reached 84/1 in the 19th over when Nissanka feathered a superb back-of-a-length delivery by Azmatullah Qmarzi to Rahmanullah Gurbaz at backward point.
Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama (36) added 50 runs for the third wicket partnership before Mendis holed to deep midwicket with the score 134. Samarawickrama was out soon, trapped lbw by Farooqi with the score reading 139/4. Charith Asalanka and Dhananjaya de Silva got starts but could not capitalise
Sri Lanka continued to lose wickets at regular intervals as Farooqui sent back the experienced Angelo Mathews (23) and also accounted for Maheesh Theekshana for 29 as some of the Sri Lankan batters got the start but could not capitalise on it.
Sri Lanka 241 all out in 49.3 overs *Pathum Nissanka 46, Kusal Mendis 39, Sadeera Samarawickrama 30; Fazalhaq Farooqi 4-34, Mujeeb-Ur-Rehman2-38) lost to Afghanistan 242/3 in 45.2 overs (Rahmat Shah 62, Hashmatullah Shahidi 58 not out, Azmatullah Omarzai 73 not out; Dilshan Madushanka 2-48) by 7 wickets.