Sri Lanka's middle order led by Charith Asalanka piled on a second successive 300-plus total following which Afghanistan imploded in their chase, as the hosts secured a 155-run win in the second ODI in Pallekele, and with it the three-match series with one game still to go.
Despite being at 128/1, Afghanistan suffered a dramatic collapse and were all out for 153 while chasing a target of 309 to level the three-match series.
Charith Asalanka was awarded the Player of the Match for his outstanding innings of 97 not out off 74 balls. Reflecting on his performance, Asalanka mentioned the challenge of batting at No. 5 and not knowing when he will be required to bat, highlighting the adaptability required in such situations.
In addition to Asalanka's stellar performance, the collapse witnessed during Afghanistan's innings was shocking. Afghanistan's total of 153 is the third-lowest men's ODI total where two batters scored fifties. Kenya's 142 vs Sri Lanka in the 2011 WC, and Scotland's 142 vs New Zealand in the 2015 CWC are the lowest.
This collapse, saw Afghanistan lose 9 wickets for just 25 runs in a span of just above seven overs.
Wanindu Hasaranga played a pivotal role in the collapse, taking 4 wickets for Sri Lanka.
In their innings, Sri Lanka posted a competitive total of 308 for 6 from their 50 overs, with four batters scoring half-centuries. Charith Asalanka anchored the innings with an unbeaten 97 off 74 balls, supported by Wanindu Hasaranga's quickfire 50 from 32 deliveries towards the end of the innings.
Unlike the first game where Pathum Nissanka was the standout performer, this time it was the Sri Lankan middle order that shone. Kusal Mendis, Sadeera Samarawickrama, and Janith Liyanage all contributed with fifties, forming crucial partnerships to stabilize the innings.
Two century partnerships, first between Mendis and Samarawickrama and then between Liyanage and Asalanka, laid the foundation for Sri Lanka's imposing total. The final flourish from Asalanka and Hasaranga in the last 10 overs propelled Sri Lanka's score to 96 runs in that period.
Despite the Afghan bowlers' efforts, particularly Azmatullah Omarzai who took 3 wickets for 56 runs, Afghanistan's fielding lapses, including dropped catches off Fazalhaq Farooqi's bowling, cost them dearly. Farooqi, along with Noor Ahmad and Qais Ahmad, managed to pick up a wicket each, but it wasn't enough to prevent Sri Lanka from securing a comprehensive victory.
Kusal Mendis, the winning captain: "The toss was important. The pitch wasn't as easy as the first ODI, but 320 was always on our mind. As far as the third ODI is concerned, there could be a few changes."
Hashmatullah Shahidi speaks now: "Mood is not good for everyone. This had happened in the second innings [of the Test too]. Our top order did really well, but the ball was gripping for Hasaranga. Looking at the wicket and the conditions, we were positive, and were thinking of chasing it down. Top order did well. The fielding was not good; we have away chances. [There were] nearly four drops. Fielding is important, and you also have to think about the bowling, where we have to be more disciplined."
Charith Asalanka is the Player of the Match for his 97* off 74 balls: "It's always challenging when I'm batting at No. 5 because I don't know what time I have to bat... Janith [and I] had a chat to carry the innings till the 40th over. Firstly, I was looking at 270-280. [But] when Janith was batting [that way], I thought it could [even] be 320. I was trying harder from the 47th over, but I couldn't get as much as I tried."