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Sri Lanka beats Afghanistan at CWC despite batting collapse

June 4, 2019
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Sri Lanka's Nuwan Pradeep, left, celebrates with Dhananjaya de Silva taking the wicket of Afghanistan's Rashid Khan during the Cricket World Cup group stage match between Sri Lanka and Afghanistan at the Cardiff Stadium, Wales, Tuesday June 4, 2019. (David Davies/PA via AP)

CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Sri Lanka recovered from a dramatic batting collapse to knock over Afghanistan for 152 and seal a 34-run win for its first victory at the Cricket World Cup on Tuesday.

The Sri Lankans imploded from 144-1 to 201 all out in an innings delayed by nearly three hours because of rain at Sophia Gardens in the Welsh capital.

Chasing a revised target of 187 from a maximum 21 overs, Afghanistan slumped from 34-0 to 57-5 then battled back through a 64-run stand between Gulbadin Naib (23) and Najibullah Zadran (43).

Sri Lanka again responded and took the final five wickets for 31 runs, with recalled seamer Nuwan Pradeep getting a career-best 4-31.

Veteran paceman Lasith Malinga delivered the finishing blows with two trademark yorkers, ending a personal run of 22 one-day internationals without a win in Sri Lanka colors.

The 1996 World Cup winner was trounced by New Zealand by 10 wickets in its opening group game, having lost all but one of 14 ODIs ahead of the World Cup. The national team is in something of a mess off the field, too, with a number of players and officials — including 1996 World Cup winner Sanath Jayasuriya — having been charged with not co-operating with anti-corruption investigators.

This win should raise spirits although the error-strewn nature of the match couldn’t help but strengthen the feeling this was a contest between the two teams likely fighting to avoid last place in the 10-team group.

It featured 52 extras, with Sri Lanka’s 35 being the second-highest scorer on its card.

In one comical moment , an inoffensive forward defensive stroke by Afghanistan batsman Dawlat Zadran saw the ball trickle past bowler Pradeep and then half-hearted attempted saves from Malinga and Angelo Mathews before dribbling to the boundary.

As for the Afghans, their only win at a World Cup remains the one over Scotland in 2015 and they’ll feel this match slipped from their grasp, especially when Sri Lanka was reeling at 159-6 after three wickets in one over from Mohammad Nabi (4-30 off nine overs).

Sri Lanka, which made the fastest 10-over start to the tournament by racing to 79-0, lost its last nine wickets for 57 runs in 15.4 overs, with only opener Kusal Perera (78) offering any resistance.

Afghanistan has two defeats from two matches, after a loss to Australia on Saturday.

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