When Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, the two Asian teams meet at the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff, they will try to leave behind their respective setbacks in the first match and earn points for the first time at the ICC World Cup 2019.
In the previous game, Sri Lanka handed out 10 wickets to New Zealand as they were bundled out for 136 by the Kiwis. The only bright spot from that game was the performance of their captain, Dimuth Karunaratne who played his 15th ODI, the first in four years and he carried his bat as his teammates on the other end couldn’t extend their support.
The Lankans need their senior players to step up. It will be the best time for Mathews, Malinga, Thisara Perera, Lakmal to start a revival and generate a chance to be in the tournament.
As for Afghanistan, their openers scored ducks against Australia and the middle order made sure they got 200. However, the total wasn’t enough as the defending champions made short work of it and the fans hoped that Naib-led side bats with more responsibility against an inferior Sri Lankan side.
The bowling on the day was dismal as the spinners were expensive and will need to ameliorate the performance.
As both Sri Lanka and Afghanistan batted first in their opening game and had a poor performance, the team which wins the toss will be opting to chase. Since CWC 2015, seven out of eight teams winning the toss have chosen fielding.
Team news: Afghanistan
Afghanistan is unlikely to make any changes in their opening combination, despite an extremely poor outing with the Aussies. The team though will be desperate for Asghar Afghan to make a return after being ruled out with calf strain. Considering the conditions they may bring Aftab Alam and drop Hamid Hasan.
Probable XI: Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib (c), Najibullah Zadran, Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Hamid Hassan/Aftab Alam.
Team news: Sri Lanka
For Sri Lanka, they may not consider making any changes and give the batsman one more opportunity and there is no other player on the bench who can strongly make his case. The bowlers didn’t have a respectable total to play.
Probable XI: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Perera (wk), Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Angelo Matthews, Jeevan Mendis, Thisara Perera, Isuru Udana, Suranga Lakmal and Lasith Malinga.
Stats that matter
- Sri Lanka have lost all their 5 ODIs at the Cardiff Wales Stadium.
- Afghanistan have won more ODIs than Sri Lanka since CWC 2015 but have played 22 less ODIs than the 1996 Champions.
- Sri Lanka have won only 4 ODIs in past one year, in that three of them were dead rubbers while the other was against Scotland.
Also read: WC: Pakistan makes a comeback in nail-biting match against England