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World Cup 2019, Match 7- AFG Vs SL, Preview: Spirited Afghanistan Chase First Win Against Confused Lankans

In the seventh game of the World Cup 2019 extravaganza, Afghanistan will be up against the Sri Lankans at the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff on June 4, Tuesday. Both the teams are coming into this game after conceding clinical losses in their respective opening outings. Thus, it is an important encounter for both the sides and they will be hoping to record their first win in this 50-overs quadrennial tournament.

Afghanistan faced a champion side like Australia, who have gone to lift the World Cup trophy five times, in their opening game of the competition. The Aaron Finch-led team handed the Afghan side a crushing 7-wicket defeat in Bristol. However, the Gulbadin Naib-captained Afghanistan team now needs to get off that opening loss and focus on doing well in the rest of the tournament.

Skipper Gulbadin Naib and Najibullah Zadran took the attack to the bowlers after they were pushed onto the back foot early in the game. The bowlers weren’t to throw the towel in easily and made Australia work hard for this win. To chase 208 runs, the Kangaroos took 34.5 overs and Afghanistan did well to take the game so deep.

The standards of Sri Lanka cricket have never been as bad as they are at the moment. In their opening game against New Zealand, the side suffered a 10-wicket loss and bagged a huge embarrassment. All they could manage to score in this game was 136 runs which was hugely disappointing. In the second innings, the bowlers put up no fight and ended up conceding a massive win to the opposition.

As a result, the Net Run Rate of Sri Lanka at the moment is -5.754 and there are several corrective steps that are to be taken to make things right again. The team will face Afghanistan in their next game of the World Cup and this is possibly their best chance to get a win under their belt. However, it will be improbable if their players continue to play the way as they did in the earlier game.

Afghanistan’s likely Playing XI

The Afghans are most likely to go in with the same lineup. Albeit Zazai and Shahzad bagged ducks in the last match, the damage they can inflict is pretty much known. The onus will be on Rahmat Shah and Hashmatullah Shahidi to steady the ship in the middle order. Nabi remains the fulcrum of the team.

Najibullah can be promoted up the order depending on the situation. Hamid Hasan looked accurate last time and that’s a positive sign for Gulbadin’s men. Mujeeb Ur Rahman had an off day previously and he’ll be looking to make amends. The young Rashid Khan’s role will also be of prime importance.

Probable XI: 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.

Sri Lanka’s likely Playing XI

The Islanders may bring in leg-spinner Jeffrey Vandersay in place of Jeevan Mendis. The Lankans look out of firepower in the bowling department and the tweaker can add variety. Barring skipper Karunaratne, the rest of their batters couldn’t survive the venom spewed by the Kiwis’ bowlers.

Lahiru Thirimanne and Angelo Mathews are the experienced heads in the batting lineup and they’ll need to show the way for the rest of the team. Kusal Mendis got out for a golden duck the last time. The fast bowlers- Isuru Udana, Suranga Lakmal and Lasith Malinga- also need to find a way of getting wickets.

Probable 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.

Match Timings- 3:00 pm IST and 10:30 local

Broadcast Details- Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1 HD.