Under 19: Asalanka the star as Sri Lanka U19 enters quarter-finals

Sri Lanka has had problems stemming the rush of wickets so far at the ICC Under-19 World Cup. It didn’t prove costly in the warm-ups or against Canada in the opener, but in its second Group B clash, against Afghanistan, it got a real fright.

A total of 184, thanks to captain Charith Asalanka’s 91-ball 71, is all Sri Lanka could put up at Sylhet International Stadium on Saturday (January 30), but small though it was, once Afghanistan’s innings got underway, it was evident that even that was a good number. The bowlers came up with a tidy showing as the opposition was shot out for 151 in 44.5 overs.

Sri Lanka, which had won its first game by 196 runs, registered a 33-run win to clinch a berth in the tournament’s Super League quarter-finals.

Sri Lanka chose to bat and had a pretty solid start, with Kaveen Bandara and Avishka Fernando putting on a fairly quick 48. Fernando played the lead there, scoring a 27-ball 30 comprising four fours, before an attempt for a quick single resulted in a run out.

With Fernando’s dismissal, the runs dried up, and the wickets started falling. Bandara (20) fell to Shamsurrahman, the off-spinner, before the bowler trapped Kamindu Mendis in front. Zakir Khan, the chinaman bowler, then had both Shammu Ashan and Vishad Randika dismissed within three balls, and Sri Lanka was reduced to 96 for 5.

ICC Under 19 CWC 2016 – Sri Lanka v Afghanistan View Full

Asalanka, who had come in at No. 4, finally found some support in Wanidu Hasaranga, and the two put on a much-needed 62 for the sixth wicket. Asalanka mostly farmed the strike and kept the scoreboard moving, even as Hasaranga put away a couple of boundaries when he could. However, the stand was broken by Shamsurrahman when he clattered Hasaranga’s stumps, and there was another slide after that.

Karim Janat bagged the crucial wicket of Asalanka as he mis-hit one to long-on, his knock including eight fours and a six, before the rest of the tail crumbled.

Afghanistan was determined not to let the good work go in vain. Despite the early loss of Naveed Obaid, who was bowled by Asitha Fernando for 2, Ihsanullah Janat, the captain, partnered Karim and the two added 36 for the second wicket.

Having built a foundation, though, Afghanistan couldn’t capitalise. Hasaranga had Ihsanullah (23) trapped in front, before Asalanka had both Ikraim Faizi and Muslim Musa dismissed in quick succession to reduce the opponents to 74 for 4.

Waheedullah Shafaq was brave coming in at No. 8 and smashing four fours and three sixes en route a run-a-ball 47, but he was running out of partners quickly and became the last man to fall.

Kamindu Mendis was the pick of the bowlers for Sri Lanka with 3 for 36, while Damitha Silva (2 for 33) and Asalanka (2 for 18) had two apiece.

(Photos: Sameera Peiris)