SHARJAH: Opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz smashed 84 to guide Afghanistan to a 175-6 against Sri Lanka in the opening Twenty20 international of the Asia Cup Super Four on Saturday.
Gurbaz put on a key second-wicket stand of 93 with Ibrahim Zadran, who made 40, after being put into bat first but Sri Lanka hit back late to check the opposition total at Sharjah.
Gurbaz, a wicketkeeper-batsman, had a narrow escape when he was caught in the deep off Maheesh Theekshana but repays suggested the fielder had touched the rope.
He lost opening partner Hazratullah Zazai, who was bowled on 13 by Dilshan Madushanka 13, but kept up the attack to raise his fifty in 22 balls.
Ibrahim then played anchor with Gurbaz as the two kept up the scoring to lay the base for their total, which looked to go beyond 190.
Asitha Fernando finally cut short Gurbaz’s innings after the batsman miscued a slower ball to be out caught at deep mid-wicket.
Ibrahim attempted to switch gears and push the scoring but fell to Madushanka.
Afghanistan seemed to have lost their way in the end as opposition bowlers rattled the middle-order including key wickets of skipper Mohammad Nabi, caught and bowled off Theekshana for one, and Najibullah Zadran run out on 17.
Afghanistan, who had crushed Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to move into the Super Four, managed just 37 runs in the last five overs and lost five wickets.