World T20: Dilshan hits unbeaten 83 as Sri Lanka top Afghanistan by six wickets

Defending champions Sri Lanka beat Afghanistan at Eden Gardens, to move top of Group 1

World T20: Dilshan hits unbeaten 83 as Sri Lanka top Afghanistan by six wickets
Tillakaratne Dilshan played a crucial innings to give Sri Lanka victory (image via: AP)

Sri Lanka got their 2016 World T20 campaign off to a winning start, after beating Afghanistan by six wickets at Eden Gardens in Kolkata

Chasing 154 for victory, Sri Lanka had Tillakaratne Dilshan to thank for the win, after the 39-year-old opener scored an unbeaten 83 from 56 balls. 

Afghanistan's 20 overs of batting had been an innings of two halves, where they managed just 47 off the first 10 overs, including 36 dot balls, whilst the second half of their innings saw them plunder 106 runs, leaving them with a total of 153-7.

The win sees Sri Lanka join the West Indies at the top of Group 1, giving themselves the best opportunity to defend their title.

Captains knock of 62 from Stanikzai helps Afghanistan post 153

After powering their way through the preliminary rounds with minimal fuss, Afghanistan knew they would be facing a tougher test in the main competition, starting with the defending World T20 champions. 

11 overs into their innings, it looked as though they were being outgunned after losing two of their form batsmen Mohammad Shahzad and Mohammad Nabi cheeply for single-figure scores. Rangana Herath had picked up a pair of wickets for the Sri Lankans who were in complete control, restricting their opponents to 51-4. 

Captain Asghar Stanikzai and Samiullah Shenwari then upped the anty somewhat with some extravagant strokeplay to put the bowlers under pressure. 

Shenwari's 31 off 14 balls gave the innings real impetus, and alongside Stanikzai, the pair put on 61 in five overs and three deliveries.

Asghar Stanikzai leads from the front for Afghanistan with 62 (image via: ICC)

Stanikzai was eventually out in the penultimate over of the innings, but not before he had struck 62 from 47 balls, which included three fours and four maximums. 

Thisara Perera helped himself to three wickets for the Sri Lankans, but Najibullah Zadran's 12 not out off three balls to finish off the innings saw Afghanistan post north of 150, giving themselves a more than competitive total to defend. 

Dilshan guides defending champions home

It was certainly not a comfortable or confident chase from Sri Lanka, who left it until there were only seven balls left before claiming victory for the loss of four wickets. 

Tillakaratne Dilshan was the star man, batting throughout the innings for an unbeaten 83, with his experience on the big stage really coming to the fore. 

Dinesh Chandimal chipped in with 18, opening alongside Dilshan, but there was nothing much offered from the middle-order of Lahiru Thirimanne (6), Thisara Perera (12) or Chamara Kapugedera (10). 

There were a number of mishaps in the ground-fielding of Afghanistan which proved costly in the final outcome, letting Sri Lanka off the hook when the pressure was starting to increase on the chasing side. 

It was left to Dilshan and captain, Angelo Mathews (21*), to finish the chase, with a partnership of (42), as the 2014 champions got their defence off to a winning start.