ICC World Cup 2019: Match 7, Afghanistan vs Sri Lanka, Preview – Asian underdogs aim to up the ante and have a victory in kitty
Both teams are coming to this fixture on the back of a huge defeat.
Updated - Jan 13, 2020 9:23 pm
It is very difficult to believe the Sri Lanka side which once terrorized every opposition in the world is now entering a contest against Afghanistan with not a lot of confidence to win it. Take nothing away from Afghanistan’s meteoric rise in recent years, but it also has a lot to do with Sri Lanka’s unprecedented downfall.
It was the transition phase which they didn’t deal with very well and they are paying a price for it. Apart from Dimuth Karunaratne swimming against the tide against New Zealand, there wasn’t one player in that XI in that game who looked competent enough to take on the Kiwis. As far as confidence goes, they are not in a great position.
There is an abundance of talent in the Afghan side, probably a little more than the current Sri Lankan setup. But the problem for them is the inconsistency of some of their top players. A lot of fans are actually expecting them to get this game done and dusted, but that cannot happen if their big players don’t step up.
Both Shahzad and Zazai were dismissed for a duck and that’s not a positive sign for their skipper. Apart from Rahmat Shah, the others are not getting runs on a consistent basis and they will be expecting Najibullah Zadran to continue the good work he did against Australia. Hamid Hassan had a fantastic outing with the ball despite their defeat, but the likes of Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Dawlat Zadran and Rashid Khan were a tad expensive. Naib will be expecting a better performance from them.
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.
Thirimanne and Karunaratne will continue to open the innings with the attacking Kusal Perera coming in at number three. Their middle order has some experience in Dhananjaya de Silva and Angelo Mathews, but they are not stepping up for the side regularly. Isuru Udana, Suranga Lakmal and Lasith Malinga will be the three main pacers to go with Thisara Perera as the fourth seamer. One among Jeffrey Vandersay and Jeevan Mendis will get a nod in the XI.
Lahiru Thirimanne, Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Kusal Perera (wk), Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Angelo Mathews, Jeevan Mendis/Jeffrey Vandersay, Thisara Perera, Isuru Udana, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga.
Focus will be on
Najibullah Zadran (Afghanistan)
Perhaps the most underrated cricketer in the current Afghan setup, Najibullah Zadran certainly packs a punch and is a very useful outlet in their XI. He comes down in the middle order and has the ability to score quickly against any bowling attack and we saw glimpses of it against Australia. He might bat a little higher up the order if a lot of wickets don’t fall in the early overs, just to give him ample time to settle in and apply the finishing touch.
Angelo Mathews (Sri Lanka)
A lot of fans are palpably frustrated with what Angelo Mathews has been providing despite all the skill and experience he possesses. He was one of the star outlets on the side when Jayawardene and Sangakkara were active but after their departure, he has looked very pale. They need his experienced service big time to avoid further humiliation in the tournament.
Matches played – 3 | Sri Lanka won – 2 | Afghanistan won – 1
36 – Lahiru Thirimanne is 36 runs short of 3,000 runs in this format.
TV – Star Sports
Match Timings – 15:00 IST; 10:30 local