Defending champions Sri Lanka started its 2016 ICC World Twenty20 campaign with a six-wicket win over Afghanistan on Thursday in Kolkata. Asghar Stanikzai won the toss and opted to bat but Mohammad Shahzad and Noor Ali Zadran could only put on 12 for the first wicket before the former fell to Angelo Mathews. Zadran and Stanikzai added 32 for the second stand the other opener was clean bowled by Rangana Herath.
The Afghans slumped to 51/4 as Karim Sadiq (0) and Mohammad Nabi (3) departed in quick succession at the hands of Thisara Perera and Herath respectively. Samiullah Shenwari and the skipper took their side to 112 before the latter departed for 31 (14 balls, three fours, two sixes). Stanikzai was the seventh man to fall for the top score of the innings, contributing 62 from 47 balls (three fours, four sixes) as the main tournament qualifiers posted 153/7.
Perera’s 3/33 made him the pick of the Sri Lankan bowlers. In reply the island nation started well with a 41-run opening stand between Dinesh Chandimal (18) and Tillakaratne Dilshan. Although Dilshan was losing partners, he would hold firm to lead the Sri Lankans to victory with an outstanding unbeaten 83 from 56 deliveries (eight fours, three sixes). Mathews was the other man at the crease when the champions crossed the line with seven balls to spare.
The Sri Lankan skipper had smashed 21 from 10 balls.