Reigning Under-19 Asia Cup champions Afghanistan reprised their regional success on a global stage at the World Cup in New Zealand, defeating Sri Lanka by 32 runs on DLS Method in Whangerei. Having already beaten Pakistan in Group D, Afghanistan clinched a place in the quarter-finals for the second time in their history, having done it in 2014 in the UAE before losing to eventual champions South Africa.
The success for Afghanistan is also a 180-degree turn from the 2016 Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh, when they were similarly placed in a group with Pakistan and Sri Lanka but were defeated by both sides.
Wednesday’s victory was set up by a trio of half-centuries from Ibrahim Zadran (86 off 112 balls), Ikram Ali Khil (55 off 89 balls), and Darwish Rasooli (63 off 44 balls) to set up an imposing total of 284 for 7. The chase was in the balance when rain arrived after 24 overs with Sri Lanka 108 for 3. A revised target of 127 off the final 14 overs was set when play resumed, and the required run rate jumped from 6.80 to nearly ten an over.
Afghanistan’s bowlers seized on this to successfully apply pressure. Captain Naveen-ul-Haq snared two wickets in the first four overs after play resumed, including the well-set Jehan Daniel for Sri Lanka’s eventual top score of 48. Naveen finished with 4 for 35 in eight overs and also effected a run-out.
Afghanistan play Ireland in their final Group D match. Sri Lanka play Pakistan with the winner joining Afghanistan in the quarter-finals. A tie or a washout would also put Pakistan into the knockouts due to the net run rate tiebreaker.