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Asia Cup 2018: Afghanistan win by 91 runs, knocks Sri Lanka out of Asia Cup

Spin trio of Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman shared six wickets between them making it a win win situation for Afghanistan.

Afghanistan, on Monday registered a 91-run win against Sri Lanka, knocking the five-time champions out of the competition. This win is a combined effort of the spinners who took over the match. The trio of Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman took six wickets in all and rattled the Sri Lankan team through their game. The Sri Lankan team was unable to accomplish its target of 250 and got bundled out for 158 in 41.1 overs. It is very important for Sri Lanka to win the Group B match to stay in the tournament.

Afghanistan have had an impressive game so far in 2018, it has won over Zimbabwe and Ireland and won the qualifiers making its way into next year's ICC World Cup. The Afghanistan cricket team has made another statement by winning at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.

Afghanistan has always faced difficulties in their batting form but once they closed in on 250, Afghanistan fancied their chances against the struggling Sri Lankans, through the charm of their spin bowlers who threw away their wickets. Two wickets were already gone and Kusal Perera was out by the time Rashid Khan, the Sri Lankan hope was introduced in the game.

Upul Tharanga scored 36 runs on 64 balls before he was knocked out of the match by a simple catch at mid-off. By the time the score was 88 for four wickets, which made it evident that it will be a tough match for Sri Lanka. The only major hope left was skipper Angelo Mathews (22), but he too got out while trying to score runs at a faster pace.

Thisara also had to go back to the pavilion soon after. He scored 28 runs off 36 balls. Mujeeb ur Rahman, Gulbadin Naib, Rashid and Mohammad Nabi picked up two wickets a piece for Afghanistan. Sri Lanka has already been defeated by Bangladesh two days ago and this was Sri Lanka's second straight loss in Group B.

While on Afghanistan’s end, Rahmat Shah held the Afghan innings together before Thisara's five-wicket haul helped Sri Lanka bowl out Afghanistan. Sri Lanka took seven wickets in the last eight overs of Afghanistan innings. Afghanistan started off quite well with the openers Mohammad Shahzad (34) and Ihsanullah Janat (45) who scored 57 runs in just under 12 overs. This was a kick start for the Afghanistan team.

The first wicket was knocked down by spinner Akila Dhananjaya who trapped Shahzad in front of the wicket. Attempting to reverse swing a length ball, was a bad decision and made Shahzad loose the wicket. There was another half-century stand, between Ihsanullah and Shah, as the Afghanistan dressing room looked relaxed. 

However, Sri Lanka got the second wicket after the duo scored exactly 50 runs. Umpire Gregory Brathwaite was not impressed with Akila's shout for an lbw. But the Sri Lankans went for a review, and got the decision in their favor

After losing the wickets against Bangladesh, off-spinner Akila returned with satisfactory figures of 2/37 in his 10-overs spell.

Skipper Asghar Afghan could also not stay for long in the game and Shehan Jayasuriya foxed him. By the end of the 26th over Afghanistan had scored 110 runs after losing 2 wickets.  It was a successful partnership of 80 runs between Shah and Hashmatullah Shahidi (37) that helped Afghanistan to reach a score of 190. But Dushmantha Chameera knocked the Afghan top-scorer out of the match.

Shahidi was the next man to leave the game at the hands of Perera while Mohammad Nabi scored 12-ball 15 before the veteran Lasith Malinga cut short his stay in the middle. Thisara took the maximum wickets in the game for Sri Lanka. 

For Sri Lanka, Thisara Perera bagged a five-wicket haul while Akila Dananjaya got two wickets for 39 runs