Dunedin, Feb 22: Sri Lanka beat Afghanistan by 4 wickets in their Pool A match of the cricket World Cup at the University Oval, here today. Chasing 233 for a win, the Angelo Mathews-led side achieved its target with 10 balls to spare.
Veteran batsman Mahela Jayawardena scored a superb century to help his team survive the scare after the former champions were reduced to 51 for 4 against debutants Afghanistan. Jayawardena, who completed 1,000 runs in the World Cup, also went past Sanath Jayasuriya as the Sri Lankan with most number of World Cup hundreds (4).
Jayawardena also became the second-most run aggregator for Sri Lanka as he went past former batsman Aravind de Silva. Only Jayasuriya is ahead of Jayawardena now.
Earlier, Afghanistan's top-order batsman Asghar Snatikzai hit a strokeful half-century to help Afghanistan manage 232 all out against Sri Lanka in their cricket World Cup pool match at University Oval, here on Sunday.
Put into bat, Afghanistan lost their openers early but an 88-run third wicket partnership between Stanikzai (54), who registered his fifth ODI fifty, and Samiuallah Shenwari (38) helped the minnows recover.
The Angelo Mathews-led Sri Lanka though was always on top of the game as left-arm spinner Rangana Herath (1-41) got Stanikzai, whose 57-ball stay was laced with 5 fours and a six, back in the pavilion and a few overs later Shenwari fell to Thisara Perera (1-54). Skipper Mohammad Nabi (21) stuck around for a while only to be cleaned up by pace spearhead Lasith Malinga (3-41) as Sri Lanka soon dried up the flow of runs for Afghanistan.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Afsar Zazai (19) and Mirwais Ashraf (28) did try to stem the rot by stitching up a 46-run seventh wicket partnership but could not stand the Malinga test. If Ashraf fell in the 48th over then Zazai was the last to go as Afghanistan failed to bat out their full quota of overs.
Medium-pacer Mathews (3-41) who led by example after drawing first blood in opener Nawroz Mangal's (10) scalp, came back in the final overs to pick two more wickets and never allowed the Afghan tail to wag. For the Islanders, new-ball bowler Suranga Lakmal (2-36) also made an impact after sending back opener Javed Ahmadi (24) and Najibullah Zadran (10). Playing their maiden 50-over World Cup, Afghanistan could have done better but lost 4 wickets in the final five overs.