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Sri Lanka needs to win the tour to gather points to qualify directly for the next ICC World Cup because this team is not directly qualified in the top 8 and has to play the qualifiers this year, which will start on June 18, 2023.
The first match of three ODI match series will start on June 2nd, Friday. Dasun Shanaka will lead the side, and the team will go with full strength as the ODI World Cup is right around the corner and will start in October in India. Srilanka is one of the most passionate teams who wanna bring back their glory days when they used to reach most of the ICC tournament finals and fight for the trophy, but since their star players like Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Chaminda Vaas, Marvan Samson Atapattu, and Sanath Jayasuriya.
Sri Lanka lost their last ODI tour against New Zealand in 2023, in which they lost 2 matches, and one was abandoned. It was an awful tour for them because both matches were one-sided, and Sri Lanka did not have any great moments in which they could get themselves back in the match.
Afghanistan’s hard work and passion paid off, as they are one of the eight teams who directly qualified for the World Cup 2023, which is going to happen in India. It is a great achievement because teams like Sri Lanka and West Indies, who are World Cup champions, are not qualified directly for the World Cup, which clearly shows that Afghanistan really worked hard to be where they are right now.
Hashmatullah Shahidi will lead the side, and on this tour, Rashid Khan and Noor Ahmad will also join the team, which will give them a huge boost as they have not been part of the team for a long time. Both teams will depend on their spinners more as they have some formidable spinners who can single handily change the game. However, Rashid Khan is out of the first two ODI against Sri Lanka because of a back injury but might feature in the third ODI.
“Low Back Injury rules Rashid Khan out of the first two ODIs against Sri Lanka. Afghanistan’s Bowling Ace @rashidkhan 19 has sustained a low back injury which forces him out of the first two games against Sri Lanka, Get well soon Champ.”
“The Team Physio’s report confirms the injury and states that he will remain under full medical observation and is expected to return for the final ODI on June 7”.ACB said in twetter
Sri Lanka vs Afghanistan ODI Head-to-Head Record
Sri Lanka and Afghanistan played 7 matches against each other, in which Sri Lanka won 4 matches and Afghanistan won 2 matches.
The last time they came against each other was in 2022 in a three-match ODI series which ended up in a draw. The last ODI they played against each other went in favor of Sri Lanka, who won the match by 4 wickets.
Charith Asalanka was the player of the match after giving an amazing performance with the bat as he scored 83 not out to help his team to chase down 314 targets. Ibrahim Zadran was chosen as Player of the Series by scoring 278 runs, and in the last match, he scored 162 runs in the final ODI of Sri Lanka vs Afghanistan.
Sri Lanka vs Afghanistan: Pitch Report of Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium, Hambantota, Srilanka
|Match Played||23 matches|
|Batting first won||9 matches won|
|Batting second won||11 matches won|
|Average 1st innings score||251 runs|
|Average 2nd innings score||197 runs|
|Highest Team innings total||368 by Sri Lanka|
|Lowest Team innings total||112 by Kenya|
Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium pitch is kind of neutral ground, but it’s been a bit slow recently. Spinners will be important in the middle overs, and bowling second-side spinners will have better grip from the pitch if there are no due comes.
There will be not much swing and seam from the pitch as the condition will be dry, and there is no chance of rain or overcast. The match is not a day-night one, which will be more beneficial for the batting first side because, in the 2nd innings, the pitch will be drier as the game goes on.
Batting first batters will enjoy the pitch condition more than batting second as there will be no swing in the match which give ease to both teams because both teams are more comfortable in playing the drier condition.
The grass is kept short on the pitch so pace bowlers can get a good bounce from the pitch, and it is good for batters, too, because the ball will come to bat nicely without any unpredictable bounce.
Team Preview of the Sri Lanka Team
Sri Lanka used to be one of the best ODI format teams, reached the final many times, and also won the World Cup once in 1996 under the captaincy of Marvan Samson Atapattu.
The last time they performed well in ODI was in the 2011 World Cup, in which they reached the Finals of the tournament but lost against India. After the retirement of their main players, Sri Lanka’s team performance went down, and even the management was not good enough to handle their own team players, which led some of their players to be suspended from Cricket for a few months due to the illegal events they were involved in.
Sri Lanka will be happy with how Matheesha Pathirana did in the IPL for CSK and will make his debut in the first ODI against Afghanistan. One of the main players of the Sri Lankan team, Danushka Gunathilaka, has been suspended from cricket due to rape charges put on him, but recently 3 out of 4 charges have were dropped against him in which he was not found guilty.
He was arrested by the Sydney police from the team hotel last November while the Sri Lanka team was in the hotel for the T20 World Cup in 2022. Gunathilaka met a 29-year-old woman on a dating app, and after some time, he went on a date and then to her house, where he choked and raped her, which was stated in the women’s statement.
Prosecutor Hugh Buddin, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, told the court one charge had been certified but the remaining three counts of sexual intercourse without consent had been withdrawn,”
“tried to remove the accused’s hand by grabbing his wrist, but the accused squeezed tighter around her neck for a further 10 seconds”. “was fearing for her life and could not get away from the accused,”Sydney Morning Herald reported
Sri Lanka also included the former team captain Dimuth Karunaratne in the side for the Afghanistan ODIs series. He was the team captain when Sri Lanka was in the ODI World Cup 2019, and since March 2021, he has not played any ODI.
Dushan Hemantha is the only player in the Sri Lankan squad who never featured in any format for the international side, which clearly shows that Sri Lanka is building the team for World Cup around the experience guys only.
Dushmantha Chameera is also one of the experienced players who will make his comeback to the squad after a long-time injury and was one of the best bowlers in the 2019 World Cup. Dimuth Karunaratne said Sri Lanka does need an anchor batter which role he did in the 2019 World Cup that was helpful for the team.
“I played only a few games for Sri Lanka (after the 2019 World Cup) and then a couple of matches for club cricket and nothing else, and I just played lots of red-ball cricket. When I got dropped from the national side I did really well and I had an average of more than 40 at that time and scored a few fifties and at the same time we had seven 100-plus partnerships for Sri Lanka.
“I think we did our part, with Kusal Janith and Avishka Fernando and I did my job really well and that is what is expected out of me from the selectors and I did that. Selectors told me to bat till 40th over and play the anchor role and I did that,”
“The new selectors told something different and their vision is different and what they want to bring to the Sri Lanka side and we respect it.”Dimuth Karunaratne said in a press interview
Sri Lanka needs to play together as a team and should go for a series win if they want some points for their next World Cup direct entry because this year, they need to play qualifiers to be in the main World Cup group.
Team Preview of Afghanistan Team
Afghanistan is doing pretty well in the ODI and T20 format, which is one reason they qualified directly for the World Cup 2023, which will happen in October.
Afghanistan drew their last series against Sri Lanka by 1-1; before that, they won the series against Zimbabwe by 3-0. They even gave a proper fight to Bangladesh and lost the series by 2-1.
Abdul Rahman was named uncapped all-rounder for the Afghanistan team for the ODI series against Sri Lanka. He is a 21-year-old right-arm medium fast bowler and right-hand batter who impressed the selectors with his first-class cricket performance and all-around performance.
He played 11 List A matches in which he scored 228 runs with an average of 45.60 and took 11 wickets with an economy under 6, which shows how promising he can be for the Afghanistan team. However, the domestic circuit of Afghanistan is not so strong, and if he wants to prove himself, then have to perform well against Sri Lanka in the Three ODI series.
To win the series against Sri Lanka in their own home ground, Afghanistan needs to pull up their best performance to beat them, and big match winners like Noor Ahmad and Nabi need to provide the experience he has playing international matches.
Afghanistan has been giving some great performance in recent teams, and if you compare them with the associate nations, then they are way above them, which also includes Ireland and Netherlands, who played in the World Cup in the past.
Their star player Rashid Khan will miss the first two ODI matches against Sri Lanka because of a Lower Back injury, which is a big blow for the Afghanistan team because right now, in recent times, Sri Lanka has again started to perform quite well.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad, and Fazalhaq Farooqi will be key bowlers for Afghanistan in the absence of Rashid Khan.
Players to watch out for in Sri Lanka vs Afghanistan Match
1- Kusal Mendis is one of the most in-form batsmen in Sri Lanka and recently scored 245 and 140 runs against Ireland in the test match. He has an average of 30.50, but the recent form is better than it was in the past.
2- Wanindu Hasaranga is back in the ODI squad of Sri Lanka and will be the key spinner who can be crucial because the pitch is going to favor him. He has a great record in T20, but in ODI, he still needs to prove himself as the first-line spinner. He has taken 39 wickets in 39 matches and also scored 712 runs with an average of 22.96.
3- Pathum Nissanka is the Sri Lankan opener who played 8 ODI matches and scored 276 runs with an average of 39.42. He is still one of the great young talents who can be amazing together.
4- Ibrahim Zadran is one of the best young Afghanistani talents who played 7 matches and scored 431 runs with an average of 71.83. He was the player of the series in the match against Sri Lanka last time and scored 162 runs in the 3rd ODI of the series.
5- Noor Ahmad will be going to play the 2nd ODI match and will be more confident after giving an amazing performance in the IPL. He played 9 List A matches in which he took 16 wickets.
Probable Playing 11 in Sri Lanka Vs Afghanistan
Sri Lanka Probable Playing 11
Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Pathum Nissanka, Dimuth Karunaratne, Wanindu Hasaranga, Chamika Karunaratne, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dushan Hemantha, Dushmantha Chameera, Maheesh Theekshana, Matheesha Pathirana
Afghanistan Probable Playing 11
Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Azmatullah Omarzai, Shahidullah Kamal, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Noor Ahmad, Yamin Ahmadzai