Afghanistan became one of the eight teams to secure direct qualification for the 2023 ODI World Cup in India after a no result in the second game against Sri Lanka at Pallekele. They now have 115 points from 14 matches, winning 11 of those. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s chances of automatic qualification took a hit.
The second One-Day International was called off after 2.4 overs into the Sri Lankan chase. Earlier, their spinners did a fantastic job in the middle overs before Kasun Rajitha finished things off.
After losing Ibrahim Zadran early, Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Rahmat Shah put on 112 runs for the second wicket. Gurbaz scored 68 while Shah made 58 before Wanindu Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana removed them, respectively.
From 135 for 1, the visitors stumbled to 165 for 5. Rajitha then picked three wickets to close out the innings. Theekshana and Lahiru Kumara also bagged a couple of wickets as Sri Lanka bowled out the visitors for 228.
On November 25, Afghanistan had hammered the hosts by 60 runs to claim crucial 10 points towards the ICC CWC Super League. Zadran was the star of the show in the first ODI, scoring a sublime century. Gurbaz and Rahmat also scored individual fifties to help the team post a solid total of 294/8.
Defending the target, Afghanistan picked wickets at regular intervals from one end, with Pathum Nissanka holding another. He scored 85 off 83 before he chopped on in the 30th over. Hasaranga fought hard with a blistering 66 off 46, but it wasn’t enough as Fazalhaq Farooqi provided Afghanistan a big breakthrough yet again.
Farooqi snared 4 for 49 in his nine overs, whereas Gulbadin Naib picked three wickets as they bowled out the Lankan lions for 234.
With these 15 points from the series so far, Afghanistan’s tally extends to 115. They have been terrific in the super league, winning 11 ODIs and losing only two. They have cleanswept Ireland, Netherlands and Zimbabwe, with the only series loss coming against Bangladesh.
While Afghanistan secured a direct spot in the next year’s World Cup, Sri Lanka’s hopes were further hampered. They have only 67 points to their credit after 20 games and will be looking to draw the series when the two teams face off in the third ODI at the same venue on November 30.
West Indies and South Africa are also in contention for the one vacant spot. The Windies have 88 points, but their fixtures are over, while the Proteas have 59 points and have five matches left. They need to win four out of those five to secure the spot.
Apart from hosts India, New Zealand, England, Australia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and now Afghanistan have qualified for the marquee event.