Kolkata - Skipper Asghar Stanikzai struck 62 off 47 balls as Afghanistan posted a competitive 153-7 in their opening match of the World Twenty20 against holders Sri Lanka on Thursday.
Stanikzai, 28, hit four sixes and three fours, while Samiullah Shenwari chipped in with a handy 31 to help Afghanistan recover from a shaky 51-4 at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
Paceman Thisara Perera picked up 3-33 in an otherwise disappointing show by the Sri Lankan bowlers who let the Afghans off the hook after a promising start.
New Sri Lankan T20 captain Angelo Mathews gave the islanders the key breakthrough by having in-form opener Mohammad Shahzad caught at mid-on for eight.
Shahzad, who came into the match with a top-score of 61 in the qualifiers, lobbed an easy catch to Dushmantha Chameera as he tried to pull to the legside.
Shahzad's opening partner Noor Ali Zadran smacked paceman Nuwan Kulasekara for two boundaries in a row before being bowled by Rangana Herath (2-24) for a 23-ball 20.
Afghanistan suffered another blow soon after when Karim Sadiq (zero) nicked one behind off Perera, but Stanikzai steadied the innings with his quickfire knock, his best in Twenty20 internationals.
Stanikzai seemed to clear the ropes easily, twice lofting spinner Milinda Siriwardana into the stands, much to the delight of a small but noisy group of Afghan fans.
The skipper's counter-attack came to an end when he was caught by wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal off Perera in the 19th over.