Dhananjaya de Silva’s calm demeanour with the bat helped Asian Champions Sri Lanka chase down a 145-run target by Afghanistan with six wickets and nine balls to spare for their second T20 World Cup win at the Gabba.
Afghanistan stuck with their tried and trusted method of defending the score and managed to put on 144/8 from their 20 overs after being reeled back by Sri Lank’s bowling unit following a brisk start.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz (28 off 24) and Usman Ghani (27 off 27) set the tone with a 42-run opening partnership before Ibrahim Zadran (22 off 18) and Najibullah Zadran (18 off 16) managed to add more runs to set up a late charge.
However, led by Wanindu Hasaranga’s 3/13 Sri Lanka managed to restrict the score to a more manageable asking rate.
In reply, Afghanistan used their most lethal weapon, their spin attack, to land early blows on Sri Lanka with Pathum Nissanka (10) and Kusal Mendis (25) falling to Mujeeb Ur Rehman and Rashid Khan with their side still 100-runs off from the target.
Dhananjaya de Silva (66* off 42) then assumed responsibility for the chase finding boundaries when needed to ease the pressure on his team.
With de Silva at the helm, Charith Asalanka (19) and Bhanuka Rajapaksa (18) were not called upon to contribute drastically as Sri Lanka got home with ease.
For Afghanistan, Mujeeb and Rashid finished with two wickets apiece for 24 and 31 runs respectively.
The win over Afghanistan takes Sri Lanka to third in the Group 1 table of the T20 World Cup behind leaders New Zealand and second-placed Australia.
With their chances of qualifying next to nothing, the Asian champions will be looking to finish in the top four to secure automatic promotion for the next T20 World Cup in 2024.