Sri Lanka secure series win over Afghanistan Wanindu Hasaranga surpasses Malinga to set up new Lankan record

It was a momentous day for Sri Lankan cricket as rising leader Wanindu Hasaranga clinched his first series win as the full-time captain, with a comprehensive 87-run victory over Afghanistan in the second T20 match of their three-game series on Monday, February 19th. This triumph not only marked Hasaranga’s leadership milestone but also saw him surpass the legendary Lasith Malinga by becoming the fastest Sri Lankan to reach 100 T20I wickets.

The encounter, staged at the batsman-friendly grounds of Rangiri Dambulla International Cricket Stadium, commenced with Afghanistan’s Ibrahim Zadran winning the toss and electing to field first—a decision that would later be questioned as the Lankan batters made the most of the conditions.

Sri Lanka’s opening duo Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Mendis demonstrated aggressive intent from the get-go, establishing a robust opening partnership that exerted immense pressure on the Afghan bowlers. Nissanka’s swift 25 from 11 balls combined with Mendis’ fiery 23 off 14 deliveries, accelerated the scoring rate significantly, taking Sri Lanka to 45 runs in under four overs.

However, the game witnessed a swift momentum shift as both openers departed in quick succession—Nissanka falling to Azmatullah Omarzai and Mendis shortly after to Fazalhaq Farooqi. A brief period of struggle ensued, during which the hosts lost valuable wickets, eventually finding themselves at a precarious 121 for 5 after 14.2 overs.

The narrative took an extraordinary turn when Sadeera Samarawickrama and the formidable Angelo Mathews joined forces in the middle. They skillfully commandeered the innings with a rapid 66-run partnership over a span of just 34 balls. Mathews, in particular, turned heads with his explosive batting, scoring at a striking rate of 190.90, punctuated by four massive sixes and two boundaries.

Riding on these performances, Sri Lanka reached a competitive total of 187 for 6 in their allotted 20 overs. Despite the onslaught, veteran all-rounder Mohammad Nabi proved his worth as a reliable asset for Afghanistan by securing figures of 2 for 25, emerging as the standout performer with the ball.

In response to Sri Lanka’s challenging target, Afghanistan’s chase never quite found its footing. The innings stumbled from the start, and the team struggled against the disciplined Sri Lankan bowling. Afghanistan’s batsmen had difficulty coping with the steep required run rate and quickly lost five wickets in the first five overs.

While a brief fightback was orchestrated by Mohammad Nabi and Karim Janat, who together stitched together a 39-run stand to salvage some Afghan pride, it was not enough. The Sri Lankan bowlers regrouped and launched a calculated assault, ultimately bundling out Afghanistan for a mere 115 runs in 17 overs.

Amidst the team’s domination, it was Hasaranga who shone the brightest, capturing pivotal wickets that helped him to break yet another record. The spinning sensation achieved his 100th T20I scalp in just his 63rd match, outpacing Lasith Malinga’s previous Sri Lankan record of 76 matches. With this incredible feat, Hasaranga now stands as the second-fastest cricketer worldwide to reach the 100-wicket milestone in T20 Internationals, second only to Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan, who sits at the pinnacle with 100 wickets in 53 games.

The series victory, buttressed by this record-breaking accomplishment, heralds a promising era for Sri Lankan cricket under the vibrant captaincy of Hasaranga. His individual brilliance, combined with the team’s collective performance, manifests a resurgence that could foresee Sri Lanka regaining its stature as a dominant force in international cricket.

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