Published: Thu, June 06, 2019
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Jayawardene concerned by Sri Lanka's middle order

Jayawardene concerned by Sri Lanka's middle order

Sri Lanka made a positive start to their second ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019 match after being put into bat and found themselves on 144/1 before collapsing to 201 from 36.5 overs.

Afghanistan spinner Mohammad Nabi took three wickets in a single over to leave the Lankans struggling at 149-5 and Jayawardene said the string of soft dismissals was cause for concern.

The rain delay meant the match was reduced to 41 overs a side but Sri Lanka folded quickly after the resumption, losing Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Pradeep for the addition of just 19 more runs. And when the Afghan bowlers triggered a collapse in the Lankan innings and took their last nine wickets for only 57 runs, it seemed the 1996 champions were in for another shock. Wicketkeeper-batsman Kusal Perera top-scored with 78 runs off 81 balls which included eight boundaries. Sri Lanka's charge was initially slowed when captain Karunaratne was caught by Najibullah Zadran at long-on off Nabi but there were no signs of the clatter of wickets to come.

Rahmat Shah (2) then nicked Isuru Udana to slip and Hazratullah (30) fell to a brilliant diving catch in the deep from Thisara Perera to give Pradeep his first scalp.

Sri Lanka denied Afghanistan a famous victory by winning a low-scoring thriller in the World Cup at Cardiff.

However, faced with a rain-revised target of 187 in 41 overs, their batting let them down again as they were bowled out for 152.

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Pradeep was named player of the match.

"One hundred and eighty seven is not easy to defend, we know their openers go hard, but once we got them they were on the backfoot and we kept getting wickets", Sri Lanka captain Karunaratne said.

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Sri Lanka coach Chandika Hathurusingha also admitted his batsmen were suffering from a crisis of confidence that had been exacerbated by the bowler-friendly conditions.

Sri Lanka were far from ideal after yet another batting collapse against Afghanistan, but all-rounder Thisara Perera said the team always had faith in their "experienced bowling unit" to pull off the win.

The left-handed opener, who made global headlines in Sharjah last season when he hit six sixes in an over in the Afghanistan Premier League, was in typically bullish mood. "So the credit goes to them and other bowlers (for restricting Sri Lanka)".

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