Mathews dazzles as Sri Lanka clinch T20 series against Afghanistan

Sri Lanka wrapped up the series with a game to spare in front of a capacity crowd at Dambulla on Monday

Angelo Mathews

Eastern Eye

ALL-ROUNDER Angelo Mathews starred with a quickfire 42 and two wickets as Sri Lanka secured the three match T20 series against Afghanistan by winning the second match by 72 runs on Monday (19).

Sri Lanka wrapped up the series with a game to spare in front of a capacity crowd at Dambulla on Monday.

“It is all about the mind,” Afghanistan’s skipper Ibrahim Zadran said after the match. “If you do not execute your plans, you cannot win.”

Former skipper Mathews was doubtful for the game in the afternoon with tightness in the hamstring, but the 36-year-old smashed an unbeaten 42 off 22 balls with four sixes and two fours.

He was particularly harsh on Azmatullah Omarzai, hitting him for three consecutive sixes in the penultimate over. “Whatever the team wants me to do, I am willing to adapt myself according to the situation,” Mathews said.

His big hitting gave much needed momentum, and Sri Lanka finished on 187 for six in 20 overs, with 34 runs coming in the last two overs.

Mathews was involved in a 66-run partnership for the sixth wicket with Sadeera Samarawickrama, who posted the only half-century in the game.

Samarawickrama’s 51, which came in 42 balls with five fours, is his career best score in this format.

“Credit goes to the batters,” captain Wanindu Hasaranga said. “They batted really well,” he added, giving credit to Mathews and Samarawickrama who “finished well to get to a big score”.

Mathews then took the new ball and dismissed the openers in his first two overs to put the Afghans on the back foot. After Maheesh Theekshana trapped Rahmanullah Gurbaz leg before wicket, Binura Fernando claimed two wickets in an over to reduce Afghanistan to 31 for five inside five overs.

With half the side down even before Matheesha Pathirana was introduced to the attack – Man of the Match in the previous game – Afghanistan were in deep trouble.

Mohammad Nabi tried to salvage some pride making 27 off 17 balls and adding 39 runs for the sixth wicket with Karim Janat, before Dasun Shanaka in his first over produced the breakthrough. Karim Janat’s 28 runs in 23 balls was the Afghan’s top score, and Afghanistan were bowled out for 115 in 17 overs.

One of the highlights of the game was Wanindu Hasaranga accounting for his 100th wicket in T20 internationals, when he cleaned up Najibullah Zadran.

He became the second quickest bowler in the game to the 100-wicket milestone, having got there in 63 games.

Only Lasith Malinga has taken 100 wickets in T-20 Internationals for Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka emerged victorious in all three formats in the series as they had won the one-off Test before sweeping the ODI series 3-0.

Sri Lanka won the first of the threematch T20 series by four runs.

Afghanistan are searching for their first win on the tour, and were set to play the third T20 on Wednesday (21).