Recent Match Report – Sri Lanka vs Afghanistan Only Test 2023/24


Sri Lanka 287 for 3 (Mathews 79*, Chandimal 68*, Masood 1-34) lead Afghanistan 198 by 89 runs

Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal strode to their fifties and beyond, batting out a wicketless session together as they stretched Sri Lanka’s advantage on the second afternoon.

Afghanistan looked mostly to their spinners after lunch. But although each had their moments, debutant left-arm spinner Zia-ur-Rehman, and legspinner Qais Ahmed, who is playing his second Test, were played largely with ease by both batters on a surface that had flattened for the quicks, but was far from taking rapid turn.

Both spinners tended to fire the ball in, with so little menace on offer from the surface. This was particularly true in the aftermath of a boundary, or a spate of singles.

All up, Mathews and Chandimal’s partnership was worth 139 by tea, and they had taken Sri Lanka 89 runs ahead with seven wickets in hand. A total of 110 runs came in the second session, after 107 had come off the first, though that was for the loss of three wickets.

Mathews had, before lunch, been briefly troubled by bouncers from the quicks, but once he saw through that period, he settled into one of his steady innings, finding frequent singles square of the wicket. He occasionally looked for the big shots as well, particularly when a few dot balls had built.

Mathews hit each of the spinners for sixes in the second session, lofting Rehman into the sightscreen first, before launching Qais over long-on much later. He got to his 41st fifty off the 100th ball he faced, and was 79 not out at tea.

Chandimal was less reliant on the boundaries, and used his feat nicely to create singles, scoring heavily in the arc between point and cover, as well as down the ground. And where Mathews stayed in his crease even when looking to be more aggressive, Chandimal came down the track to hit out, sometimes targeting wide long-off, and the deep-midwicket boundary at others. He had 68 off 116, with seven boundaries, at the break.

In the first session, Afghanistan had removed Sri Lanka’s top three, with seamers Naveed Zadran and Nijat Masood in particular putting in tight spells. Naveed had Nishan Madushka caught glancing to leg slip in the third over of the day, before a Masood bounced Kusal Mendis out for 10; the bouncer, in general, has seemed like the Afghanistan seamers’ most threatening weapon.

Despite those wickets, Dimuth Karunaratne had continued to score quickly, with his leg-side game humming in particular. Having begun on 42, he strode to his 35th fifty off the seventh ball he faced in the day, and progressed briskly to 77, before dancing down the track, turning a delivery from Qais into a full toss, and promptly clipping it to short midwicket.

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