Sri Lanka win thriller in Cardiff thanks to Kusal Perera’s 78

Sri Lanka came out on top in a topsy-turvy affair in Cardiff as they successfully defended 187 to claim their first win of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 against Afghanistan on Tuesday, 4 June.

Put in, Sri Lanka got off to a brilliant start, racing to 79/0 off the first 10 overs. Despite this fantastic start, the best Powerplay of the tournament so far, the Sri Lankans were all out for 201. A collapse of 7/36 meant Sri Lanka went from 144/1 to 180/8. This is the second successive match where Sri Lanka have had a disastrous middle-order collapse, after losing 5/14 in their opening match against New Zealand.

The one player who stood firm for Sri Lanka was Kusal Perera, who made 78 from 81 balls before he was the seventh wicket to fall in that epic collapse.

The game had one significant rain delay, which resulted in the match being reduced to 41 overs a side, but Sri Lanka were bowled out for the second time in two matches before completing their allotted overs, even with this reduction. 

With overs lost, Afghanistan’s revised DLS target was 187. That looked like a straightforward chase, but it became increasingly difficult for the Afghans as they were reduced to 57/5 in the face of some accurate bowling from Sri Lanka. Nuwan Pradeep was the chief destroyer for Sri Lanka, finishing with figures of 4/31 in his nine overs. 

When Pradeep got Gulbadin Naib for 23 after a partnership worth 64 with Najibullah Zadran, the game swung back towards Sri Lanka, and despite the best efforts of Najibullah (43), Afghanistan finished 34 runs short of their target. 

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