Sri Lanka won their one-off Test match against Afghanistan by 10 wickets with a day to spare, with their opening batsmen chasing down an easy target of 56 in Colombo Monday. Afghanistan were bowled out for 296 in their second innings, setting Sri Lanka the low goal, with Dimuth Karunaratne (32 not out) and Nishan Madushka (22 not out) finishing the job within 7.2 overs. Afghanistan were playing catch-up after conceding a lead of 241 runs in the first innings, but fought back well in their second dig with Ibrahim Zadran leading the way with a maiden Test hundred. Rahmat Shah backed up the opening batter with a half-century but once the pair were dismissed, Afghanistan folded quickly. Sri Lanka skipper Dhananjaya de Silva said Afghanistan did well on day two with the ball but his team stuck to their plan.
“When both Angelo (Mathews) and I got dismissed, it might not seem that bad but that was the point that Afghanistan felt they were back in the game,” he said.
“I think that was the crucial moment of the match. But our bowlers stuck to the plan all day (day 3), not giving runs away and keeping it tight.”
Prabath Jayasuriya finished with his seventh five-wicket haul in Test cricket.
“I’m really happy at the moment, the last couple of days were tough,” said Jayasuriya, named man of the match.
“We knew this was a batting-friendly wicket, so we were just trying to do the basics right.”
Afghanistan were looking good to stretch the game to the final day when they resumed on day four at 199 for one in their second innings.
– ‘Lack of experience’ –
However, six wickets fell in the morning session for just 52 runs as the second new ball hurt the Afghans.
Seamer Kasun Rajitha dismissed overnight batsman Rahmat for 54 and then left-arm spinner Jayasuriya ran through the middle order as the new ball offered him bounce and turn.
Jayasuriya used his arm ball — which goes straight on — to good effect, foxing batsmen who were playing for turn.
Zadran, who had batted for more than six hours for his hundred, was confused by one such delivery, and was bowled through the gate.
Jayasuriya finished with five for 107, while seamers Asitha Fernando and Kasun Rajitha shared five wickets between them.
Jayasuriya ended the game with eight wickets, having taken three in the first innings.
Despite the loss, Afghanistan’s fast bowlers were impressive, with Naveed Zadran picking up four wickets in Sri Lanka’s first innings on his debut.
Hundreds by former captains Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal helped Sri Lanka to their first-innings total of 439.
The pair were involved in a record 232-run stand for the fourth wicket, the highest-scoring partnership at Colombo’s Sinhalese Sports Club for that wicket.
Afghanistan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi said he was disappointed because they lost the game despite managing a “good comeback”.
“I think it’s the lack of experience in Test cricket and also not having a lot of opportunities to play red-ball cricket,” Shahidi said.
“We’re new in Test cricket and it’s a learning process for us. I hope that we learn from this game.”
The match was not part of the World Test Championship.
The teams will now move to Kandy for a three-match ODI series, followed by three T20 Internationals in Dambulla.
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