ICC World Cup 2019 SL vs AFG: Preview

ICC World Cup 2019 SL vs AFG: Preview

Afghanistan needs Rashid Khan to up the ante against Sri Lanka. Photo Credit: AFP

The rise of the Afghanistan team is nothing short of a fairytale. The war-torn country worked their way through the ranks of the lower divisions and have arrived at the summit, the ICC ODI World Cup.

The team and its fans might have wanted a different result than the 7-wicket thrashing at the hands of Australia in which the latter pummeled them in every department. But the match will serve an eye-opener for them, pointing out the weaknesses and, the gap between them and the big boys of the game. The batting faltered against a mighty Aussie bowling line-up, while their bowlers lacked the sharp edge, Their star bowler, Rashid Khan, particularly looked clueless and wayward and this might be a worrying sign for the team.

In their second match, they are up against Sri Lanka, who themselves are going through a rough patch. So, the Afghans can be upbeat of packing a punch and get a win under their belt. 

Sri Lanka are being looked at as a 'once mighty now fallen' power. The team that won the 1996 ICC World Cup, the outfit that reached consecutive World Cup finals in 2007 and 2011 respectively, is now a shadow of its former glory. They now stand amid rubbles of debris, trying to find a way, albeit unsuccessfully till now, to reclaim their lost glory.

The departure of the likes of Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara have hurt their ODI firepower badly and they have arrived at 2019 World Cup on the back of a terrible form, losing eight out of the last nine ODIs. Their miserable run continued in the tournament, where they were thrashed by New Zealand in the first match.

The fact that they are up against Afghanistan, not a strong force in ODI cricket is no relief really. Given Lanka's current form, even Afghanistan will fancy their chances of pulling an upset.

In the batting department, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva and Kusal Mendis must take the onus of guiding the rest to put up a formidable total in the board and play with diligence while chasing. In the bowling department, the team will bank on the experienced Lasith Malinga and Suranga Lakmal to provide them the necessary breakthroughs. 

Match timing: 3:00 PM (IST)

Where to watch: Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1 HD, Star Sports 1 Hindi, Star Sports 1 HD Hindi, Star Sports 1 Tamil, Star Sports 1 Telugu, Star Sports 1 Kannada, Star Sports 1 Bangla. For online streaming, users can avail Hotstar

Weather report: There is a forecast of rain throughout the match, so chances are high of both the teams sharing the spoils. Or if the match happens at all, it will be a shortened one. Something the Afghans will be happy to contemplate, given their prowess in the t20 format. 

Pitch report and conditions: This is the same ground where New Zealand thrashed Sri Lanka by 10 wickets. The pitch assisted the New Zealand pacers, giving them ample pace and bounce that evidently made the Lankans uncomfortable. In the Surangal Lakmal and Lasith Malinga, the Islanders have the required arsenal to exploit the condition. Afghanistan too will be eager to flaunt their pace attack, especially after Hamid Hassan's impressive performance against Australia. Expect a display of short ball barrage. 

Team news: Afghanistan may keep the same team they fielded against Australia but Sri Lanka will look to add more strength to their batting line-up and make some changes. The two teams met in the 2015 World Cup where Afghanistan gave Sri Lanka a real scare, with the latter ultimately avoided the humiliation of defeat thanks largely to Mahela Jayawardene and Thisara Perera. 

Probable XI:

Afghanistan: Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib(c), Najibullah Zadran, Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Hamid Hassan

Sri Lanka: Lahiru Thirimanne, Dimuth Karunaratne(c), Kusal Perera(wk), Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Angelo Mathews, Jeevan Mendis, Thisara Perera, Isuru Udana, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga

Betting odds: Afghanistan 68/67, Sri Lanka 5/6

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