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Sri Lankan batting-friendly surfaces are known as Asalanka.

Charith Asalanka smashed 97* off just 74 balls to set up Sri Lanka's win

Two contests in, the team that batted first has accumulated more than 300 runs. This occurrence is exceedingly uncommon in Sri Lanka, and it is even more uncommon for it to occur in consecutive games; prior to this series, only 10 occasions in 358 ODIs in Sri Lanka had witnessed two consecutive games end in a score of 300 or higher

Sri Lanka’s 381 in the opening ODI was the first such score since 2018 in games where the team batting first has amassed 350 or more runs; only nine such scores have occurred on Lankan soil, and only four of those belonged to Sri Lanka.

In contrast, thirteen World Cups in the previous year accumulated totals of 350 or higher; all other World Cups combined recorded 24 such totals. It goes without saying that this serves as a conspicuous indication of the trajectory the sport is taking, at least with regard to the growing prowess of batters.

Sri Lanka appears to be regaining ground, or at least that is the expectation following the initial two high-scoring surfaces that Pallekele presented.

“After we came back from the World Cup, the first thing we spoke about was the pitches,” said Charith Asalanka, whose 74-ball 97* had played a large part in their 155-run win in the second ODI.

“We were generally used to pitches where scoring more than 300 was a challenge. But if we take the pitches we’ve played on [in] this series so far, those concerns seem to have been addressed to a large extent.”

Indeed, this is the case. Although the playing surfaces in Colombo were relatively sluggish during last month’s series against Zimbabwe, Pallekele’s home audiences have witnessed infrequent high-scoring matches. And following Afghanistan’s spirited pursuit in the inaugural ODI, in which they recorded their highest-ever ODI total despite falling short by 42 runs, they were in position for another on Sunday night but were thwarted by an epic collapse that reduced them from 128 for 1 to 153 all out.

This achievement can be attributed to the Sri Lankan bowlers’ structured approach, which involved maintaining pressure, allowing the required pace to increase, and subsequently securing wickets when Afghanistan were compelled to quicken their pace. Furthermore, Asalanka is well aware that increasing the amount of bowling on such surface’s benefits not only their batters but also their bowlers.

“Even today, they [Afghanistan] were in a good place in terms of their batting but as they were trying to accelerate, I think we bowled well to get them out. But this is how pitches need to be, because when we go to play international tournament[s] we’re generally going to get wickets where you need to score more than 300.

“So, to be able to do that we need to have practised in our home conditions. If we do more of that then it’s going to be easier for us to compete in ICC tournaments. More than that I think even our bowlers are starting to learn how to bowl on good batting wickets.”

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