Contrasting performances in their ICC World Cup 2019 (WC) opening matches adds to the spice of this duel between two sides expected to occupy the bottom placings in the table.
Afghanistan can take pride from the way they fought back at various stages to score 207 against Australia and then making them bat 35 overs to chase it down. However, missing out on nearly 12 overs with the bat and the ineffectiveness of their frontline spinners places a question mark on Afghanistan’s aspirations.
Nevertheless, this fixture remains Afghanistan’s chance of improving their WC record which stands at 1-6. Their recent record isn’t really great either (W3, L4), but Afghanistan haven’t lost consecutive ODIs since March 2018 in the WC qualifiers. Hamid Hassan (ER 2.50) and Dawlat Zadran showed good use of pace against Australia, which could be a bonus in Cardiff.
History tells us that Sri Lanka haven’t lost three consecutive WC games since 1992. However, history also tells us that this side that have lost 14 of their last 16 completed ODIs and are on a path of self-destruction. Failing to bat more than 29.2 overs and leaking 137 runs in just over 16 overs highlights their woes and the case of all-round failure for Sri Lanka from their WC opener.
Lack of partnerships pulled them down against New Zealand, as just three pairs made double digits. To compound their misery, none of the bowlers could manage an ER of under seven, putting into perspective their negative RR of 5.754. It doesn’t help matters that Angelo Mathews (avg. 44.05 with the bat) and Lasith Malinga (41 wickets in 24 matches), who have the nation’s best numbers playing in the British Isles (prior to the WC), remain uninspiring.
AFG vs SL – Probable XI
Afghanistan: Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Asghar Afghan, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib (c), Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Hamid Hassan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
Australia: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Aaron Finch (c), Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins, Jason Behrendorff, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa.
AFG vs SL ODI – Fantasy players to watch out for
It was a cameo of 27 off 11 balls from Rashid Khan that spurred Afghanistan late on against Australia, but it’s his bowling return of 8-0-52-1 that needs improvement.
A knock of 27 off 23 balls (2×6) continued to prove Thisara Perera’s worth to this Sri Lankan lower-order and makes a strong case for promotion.
AFG vs SL ODI – Stat Attack
Afghanistan have won eight of their last 14 completed ODIs at neutral venues, but they have lost three of the last four.
Five of Afghanistan’s last six ODI wins have come after batting first. Sri Lanka have won nine of their last 14 WC games (W9, L5), including a win over Afghanistan.
The latest H2H meeting, however, saw Sri Lanka lose by 91 runs.
Four of the last five matches at this venue were won by the chasing side.