Jayasuriya, Asitha and batters lead Sri Lanka to comfortable win in one-off Test

Sri Lanka

Lunch Afghanistan 198 and 251 for 7 (Jamal 9*, Naveed 0*, Jayasuriya 4-83) lead Sri Lanka 439 by 10 runs

Sri Lanka made substantial headway towards closing down the Test on the fourth morning, claiming six wickets to expose Afghanistan’s long tail.

Compared to their toil on day three, Sri Lanka’s attack appeared much more threatening when they bowled with the second new ball, taken five overs into the day. The left-arm spin of Prabath Jayasuriya was the biggest beneficiary, with the ball now biting off a drying surface when he landed it on the hard, new seam. He claimed four wickets and by the end of the session was creating chances almost every over; Asitha Fernando and Kasun Rajitha took one each.
No Afghanistan batter really prospered. Centurion Ibrahim Zadran added only 13 to his overnight score before being dismissed for 114. Rahmat Shah completed a third career fifty, but himself added only eight. Those two had shared a 108-run partnership to bring Afghanistan to within striking distance of the lead, but they began to crash so rapidly towards the end of the session, hopes of setting Sri Lanka a testing target waned dramatically.

They lost five wickets for 13 runs, either side of wiping out their deficit. They went to lunch 10 runs in front, but with only three wickets in hand.

It was Kasun Rajitha – who is playing as a concussion substitute for Chamika Gunasekara – who made the first incision, to end the long Ibrahim-Shah stand. In his first over with the second new ball, he angled one in to Shah, then straightened it slightly off the seam, on about a fourth-stump line. Shah was forced to play, and ended up providing a thin edge through the wicketkeeper.

Jayasuriya then entered the fray. He had Ibrahim dropped by Dinesh Chandimal on the deep square leg fence on 109, but would flummox the batter not long after. The ball now beginning to take turn, Zadran played for one that spun in the 90th over, but this one just went on with the arm, whizzed between bat and pad, and clattered into off stump, ending Afghanistan’s best innings of the match so far.

Hashmatullah Shahidi was out to one that did turn and took his outside edge, Qais Ahmad was caught beautifully by Dhananjaya de Silva, who dived forward at slip and intercepted the ball centimetres from the ground, and Zia-ur-Rehman left a Jayasuriya delivery that continued with the arm and crashed into off stump – the second time this match Jayasuriya claimed such a dismissal.

In between the Jayasuriya wickets, Asitha Fernando – the best of Sri Lanka’s seamers so far this match – also added one to his wicket column. Bowling back of a length outside off stump, he had Ikram Alikhil edge one to second slip, where Kusal Mendis also took an excellent low catch diving forward.

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