Afghanistan won the toss and decided to bat first against Sri Lanka in the third match of the Asia Cup at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi.
Here is what the captains said:
“I was going to have a bat first as well. Looks a good pitch, decent covering of grass and should hold on well. Looks good to bat but you cannot win all the tosses. The more you think, more pressure you will put yourself under. Crucial to go out there and have some fun. He was terrific last game and hopefully he can contribute to a winning cause today. Three changes due to the conditions. Akila comes back in, as does Shehan Jayasuriya and Dushmantha Chameera. Aponso and Dilruwan misses out, Lakmal isn’t fit.”
“We will bat first, want to put runs on the board. Seems like too much grass but we are used to playing in these conditions.We know the conditions well. We have one seamer, one all-rounder and three spinners apart from one part-time spinner. ”
With every passing ODI, Sri Lanka’s fortune is hitting a new low. There is absolutely no end to the island nation’s miseries in the fifty-over format and their defeat in the first game against Bangladesh pretty much made clear the phase they are going through.
Barring the first few overs with the ball when Lasith Malinga had Bangladesh on the mat, Sri Lanka struggled throughout. They failed to capitalise on early breakthroughs, missing several catches and made a mess of a 262-run target. Eventually, they lost the game by 137 runs. Barring Malinga’s spell, there were very few positives for Sri Lanka in the last game. Fortunately for them, they now face a team they are likely to beat although taking Afghanistan lightly can backfire.
Afghanistan have been in fine form in the recent past, having won a couple of ODI series against Ireland and Zimbabwe in addition to winning the World Cup Qualifiers by beating West Indies in the final. Both the batsmen and bowlers are looking in good touch.
Rahmat Shah, Mohammad Shahzad, Najibullah Zadran and Mohammad Nabi have all made 300-plus runs this season in ODIs. On the other hand, spinners Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rehman continue to impress.
Upul Tharanga, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera(w), Dhananjaya de Silva, Angelo Mathews(c), Dasun Shanaka, Thisara Perera, Shehan Jayasuriya, Akila Dananjaya, Lasith Malinga, Dushmantha Chameera
Mohammad Shahzad(w), Ihsanullah Janat, Rahmat Shah, Gulbadin Naib, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Asghar Afghan(c), Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Aftab Alam, Mujeeb Ur Rahman