Both Sri Lanka and Afghanistan would like to kick start the tournament with a win under their belt. Where, the Afghanistan team is on the rise, the Sri Lankan team is going through a lean patch in the last two years. The veterans are gone and the team is going a transition phase. Angelo Mathews has a huge responsibility over his robust shoulders to find the best combination and make them play to their best potential.
Afghanistan is eager to leave a long lasting impression in the top league and cannot be considered as a minnow on any front. The above mentioned conditions make the contest enthralling, giving sleepless nights to both the opposition. Both the team will try to secure the win and cruise easily through the super four stages.
Sri Lanka vs. Afghanistan Head to Head
Sri Lanka and Afghanistan have faced each other 2 times in the history of One Day International Cricket. Sri Lanka emerged as victorious on both the occasion. They first faced each other in Asia cup 2014, where Sri Lanka defeated the Afghan attack by 129 runs.
Afghanistan played well on the second occasion, but lost to Sri Lanka by 4 wickets in ICC World Cup 2015.
Sri Lanka Recent Performance
Although, Sri Lanka is a world beater and can win any match under any condition. The team is going through a rough phase at the moment; they are winning against the minnows, but couldn’t prove their authority over cricket super powers.
In the last 10 encounters, they managed to win only 5 ODI’s. They failed miserably, especially under alien conditions. Although, the Dubai conditions suit their style of play, they play the spin well and can accelerate during the last phase of the innings.
Sri Lanka Key Players
Lasith Malinga and Upul Tharanga are the only experienced players in the team, who could handle the big tournament nerves. Upul Thranga is regarded as a complete batsman capable of playing both classical and aggressive brand of cricket. He has played match winning innings in the past taking his team to the victory line.
Lasith Malinga on the other hand has earned the nickname of the toe-breaker. He might have passed his prime, but is still a force to reckon. He could still win the match single handedly for his team. Most of the batsmen still have no answers to his Yorkers and slower deliveries.
Sri Lanka Playing XI
Angelo Mathews (c), Amila Aponso, Dushmantha Chameera, Akila Dananjaya, Niroshan Dickwella, Shehan Jayasuriya, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga, Kusal Mendis, Dilruwan Perera, Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera, Kasun Rajitha, Dasun Shanaka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Upul Tharanga
Afghanistan Recent Form
In the last two years, one team, which improved from strength to strength, is Afghanistan. In the last two years, they managed to win against three test playing nations, which include Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and West Indies.
They won their last three ODI matches comprehensively against Ireland are geared up to carry on the winning streak in this Asia Cup.
Afghanistan Key Players
Rashid Khan- After the dusk of the great spinners like Shane Warne, Muttiah Muralidharan and Saeed Ajmal, the cricket world went through the spinner’s crisis, but the depression days are over. Rashid Khan has emerged on the international scene, giving sleepless nights to every cricket nation. He has already become the fastest bowler to take 100 wickets and will try to hunt a few more this Asia Cup.
Mohammad Shahzad is the new batting sensation in the Indian subcontinent; he can play every shot in the book and at mind boggling pace. His aggressive brand of cricket has earned him the worldwide appreciation and accolades. The Abu Dhabi pitch is tailor-made for his stroke play. We can expect fire crackers during his innings.
Afghanistan Playing XI
Asghar Afghan (c), Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Ihsanullah Janat, Javed Ahmadi, Rahmat Shah, Hashmat Shahidi, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan, Najibullah Zadran, Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, Aftab Alam, Samiullah Shinwari, Munir Ahmad Kakar (wk), Sayed Ahmad Sherzad, Sharafudin Ashraf, Wafadar
The match will be played at Sheikh Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi. The pitch has the history of producing big totals; the batsman can play the shots through the line and can clobber the bowling during the power plays. The pitch is dry with almost no moisture. Let’s just call it the batsmen paradise.