This match saw Afghanistan as favourites but not by much. It was form more than anything that saw the young team given the edge. Sri Lanka certainly have more experience and it was very close to a 50/50 contest, and the predictions proved to be accurate. The one thing that nobody accounted for was the impact that the rain would have, coming at the perfect time for Sri Lanka to regroup and come back with a bang. What an entertaining and close match this was. Certainly the match of the tournament so far, as Sri Lanka emerged deserving winners 201 to 152, to win by 35 runs, per Duckworth-Lewis.
Five Things We Learned
(1) Any team can beat any other team
While we can say that the two previous matches were upsets, this one probably wasn’t. This was just one where most people picked Afghanistan to win yet Sri Lanka did. It’s getting to a stage where anyone trying to pick winners may as well throw a coin in the air for how predictable they are.
(2) Sri Lanka can bat
At 0/92 after 13 overs, Sri Lanka were on target for 400, and at 1/144 off 21 it seemed all the more likely, but then, somehow, they were reduced to 8/180 and ultimately 201 all out. Ignoring that collapse, though, wow, what a great start.
(3) Afghanistan can bowl
The reduction from 1/144 off 21 overs to be all out for 201 was incredible. At one stage, Afghanistan took 4 wickets in 2 overs. From that position to have that kind of a comeback is incredible. Mohammad Nabi was the star but it was an all-round effort really. They bowled Sri Lanka out in just 36.5 overs, which is an incredible effort, especially since they took 21 overs just to lose their first wicket.
(4) Sri Lanka the comeback kings (and collapse kings)
To see a start that good, a collapse that bad, and a comeback that big all in the one match was incredible. I mean, they defended a miserable 187, reduced from 201 by Duckworth-Lewis to account for the benefit that rain gave to Sri Lanka, and won by 35 runs. From 1/144 off 21 overs, a win by just 35 runs suggests that they were disappointing in the end, but it was the middle where they fell apart. At the start and at the end, Sri Lanka were awesome.
(5) Rain can be good for cricket
We often complain about rain ruining contests but here we saw a match where rain helped it tremendously. Without rain, Sri Lanka were 8/180 and might have been all out for 185, then lost by 10 wickets, as the momentum was all Afghanistan’s way, but with rain they managed that little bit of fight at the end to post 201, then had the time to regroup and came back firing to win. Rain made this a contest. Rain improved the quality of the match. Sri Lanka undoubtedly are happy that the rain came when it did. If it had come when Afghanistan were 0/170 chasing 185 for victory then it would have been too late. It was as if the heavens were smiling on Sri Lanka.
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