“You’ve got to give a lot of credit to the way the Afghanistan bowlers bowled,” he said. “They did well through the course of the innings. Even in my partnership with Angelo [Mathews, who made 141], there were times when I supported him, and times when he supported me when I found it difficult.
“Even though a lot of their bowlers are inexperienced at the international level, they bowled very well. The seamers and the left-arm spinner especially were fantastic. From the morning yesterday until the close of play, their seamers maintained their energy and their body language. They did well to restrict us.”
Part of Afghanistan’s strength was their discipline on an SSC track that did not offer much for the bowlers beyond the first session. They were especially intent that Sri Lanka’s batters did not get on the front foot, Chandimal said.
“If you take my hundred or Angelo’s hundred, there really weren’t many balls where we could step forward and drive for four. I’m not sure there was a single driven four off the seamers. They bowled short to us, or bowled good lengths. Right through the day they had discipline.”
Ahead of this match, Shahidi had said Afghanistan’s best route to becoming a more competitive Test nation had to do with their playing more Tests. With Afghanistan now seriously testing Sri Lanka – only 42 runs behind with nine second-innings wickets in hand – Chandimal agrees.
“What their captain said is right. If they get more opportunities to play Tests, they are a much better team in the next four or five years. They are a challenge for us, and I wish them all the best for their future.”