Recent Match Report – Sri Lanka vs Afghanistan 1st ODI 2023/24

Innings Sri Lanka 381 for 3 (Nissanka 210*, Avishka 88, Fareed 2-79) vs Afghanistan

Pathum Nissanka became the first Sri Lankan to score an ODI double century as Sri Lanka piled on the runs against Afghanistan in the first ODI at Pallekele. On a record-tumbling day, Nissanka would end unbeaten on 210 off 139 deliveries, as Sri Lanka finished on 381 for 3 in the first innings.

Avishka Fernando, with a run-a-ball 88, was the next highest scorer, as he and Nissanka put on a 182-run opening stand – Sri Lanka’s first century opening stand in nine innings, and just the third to hit double digits in that period. But that was just the start of Afghanistan’s misery.

The visitors, who had opted to go with a four-strong seam attack, were left to rue their decision to bowl first having won the toss, with conditions proving ideal for batting. After a subdued start in the opening five in which just 22 runs were scored, Nissanka began to let loose.

There was a subdued period through the middle overs when Mohammed Nabi was rifling through his overs, but at the start and at the death the Afghan bowlers were at Nissanka’s mercy.

Azmatullah Omarzai was the first to feel the heat, taken for back-to-back boundaries through midwicket and then cover. Two overs later Fareed Ahmad was taken for 19, inclusive of two fours and a six – the latter off a free hit. Ahmad would go for a further 17 in his next over, Avishka doing the brunt of the damage on that occasion, as Sri Lanka raced to 90 by the end of the 10th over.

The scoring would taper from there on, the occasional flurry of boundaries serving to keep the scoring rate hovering around the seven an over mark. It would take a scorching grab from Hashmatullah Shahidi at backward point to bring an end to the opening stand, as Avishka flayed a wide one hard to his right.

Kusal Mendis’ entry would see more of the same, as he scrounged around for a 31-ball 16 before skying a miscued shot after coming down the track. The entry of Sadeera Samarawickrama, midway through the 36th over, though would be the catalyst for Sri Lanka to shift gears, as his ability to rotate strike and find boundaries dovetailed perfectly with Nissanka, who was beginning to see the ball bigger with every stroke.

Their stand of 121 would come off just 71 deliveries and would scale up in the final 10 overs. This period would see Sri Lanka ransack 120 runs for the loss of just one wicket. Nissanka alone would account for 76 of those.

Having earlier brought up his century with a single eased to deep cover, he would bring up his 150 with a double past backward point. But those milestones were surrounded by belligerence.

Noor Ahmad was slog-swept twice in an over, with the wind, over deep midwicket. Fazalhaq Farooqi was clobbered down the ground, flicked over square leg, heaved over deep midwicket and paddled behind square. And when all else failed Afghanistan turned back to Fareed, but Nissanka would not err.

Having failed to get away a string off wide Fareed yorkers two overs prior, Nissanka would squeeze the first such attempt in the final over past backward point to bring up his double ton. Two balls later he would swing one high over square leg and then he would crash a drive to deep extra cover to finish the innings – as he was applauded off the pitch by teammates and opponents alike.

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