Sri Lanka Preview
Dasun Shanaka’s will have to test its bench strength in this series ahead of the ICC World Cup. They come here with back-to-back series losses against India and New Zealand. The side has struggled to get the right combination, and this series will be important for them. They must play to their strengths and use the home conditions to take an early lead in the series.
Pathum Nissanka is the key batsman for the team, and he will look to start the innings on a positive note with Kusal Mendis. Angelo Mathews must bring his experience to play and do well in the middle order with Charith Asalanka and Shanaka. They will need contributions in the lower middle order from Chamika Karunaratne, Dhananjaya de Silva, and Wanindu Hasaranga.
The bowlers will take on a hard-hitting batting line-up, and early spells from Kasun Rajitha and Dushmantha Chameera would be important. Matheesha Pathirana comes here with a good show in the IPL, and he will need to do well along with Wanindu Hasaranga. Karunaratne, Dhananjaya de Silva, and Shanaka add depth to this attack.
Sri Lanka Predicted Playing XI:
Dasun Shanaka (c), Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis (wk), Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Charith Asalanka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Chamika Karunaratne, Kasun Rajitha, Matheesha Pathirana, Dushmantha Chameera
Hashmatullah Shahidi and his men play this format after a long break and will look to get things moving. They had leveled the last ODI series against Sri Lanka, and the side will look to draw confidence from that series. Their opponents are tough to beat at home, and Shahidi will like a good show from his players.
Openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran will look to set up a strong opening wicket stand in this game. The middle order has gained experience, and they will expect a good show from Rahmat Shah, Shahidi, and Najibullah Zadran. Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, and Azmatullah Omarzai add firepower to the line-up in the lower middle order.
Mujeeb ur Rahman and Fazalhaq Farooqi will aim for early wickets and try to put the hosts under pressure at the start of the game. Rashid Khan and Noor Ahmed did well during the IPL and will feel confident. Azmatullah Omarzai and Mohammad Nabi will look to do well in the supporting role.
Afghanistan Predicted Playing XI:
Hashmatullah Shahidi (c), Rashid Khan, Mujib ur Rahman, Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Ibrahim Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Mohammad Nabi, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Najibullah Zadran, Noor Ahmed, Azmatullah Omarzai
There would be partly cloudy skies over Hambantota. The weather would be hot and humid in the afternoon. We expect a good batting surface where batsmen can play their shots without fear and little in there for the bowlers. The side batting first would need to target a score above 320 runs to win here.
Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium, Hambantota’s wicket is a paradise for the batsmen as the ball comes onto the bat nicely. It is one of the toughest wickets for the fast bowlers, with no assistance. Spinners who turn the ball can use the surface’s slow nature and have done well in the past.
Toss: To Bat
The wicket at this venue is an absolute beauty to bat on, and we have seen teams put up big scores on the board. The ball won’t move in the early overs. The side winning the toss here shouldn’t hesitate to bat first.
Afghanistan has a strong side, but they haven’t played this format for over six months. Their batsmen will have to do well and build their innings. Sri Lanka has been tough to beat at home and has a bowling attack suited for these conditions. It will make them favorites to win the game.
Sri Lanka to win