Cricket One Day International Prediction
Sri Lanka vs Afghanistan - Match Preview
🏏 4 June 2023 - 4:30 GMT +0
With the World Cup Qualifiers just around the corner for Sri Lanka, their three-match home ODI series against the already-qualified Afghanistan is critical to gaining form and knowing where they stack up. Despite the absence of injured star spinner Rashid Khan, Afghanistan was able to dig deep and chase down a score of 268 with relative ease to go 1-0 up in the series.
June will be one of the most important months in Sri Lanka’s cricket history. The World Cup Super League brought context to ODI cricket, but could mean Sri Lanka misses out on a vital World Cup in India later in the year if they don’t get past the qualifiers, which begin within a fortnight of this series concluding. These ODI matches will allow the players to gain what they hope will be enough form to finish in the top two of the qualifiers. On current form, however, with just nine wins across their last 24 completed matches, it’s hard to argue that Sri Lanka deserves to be at cricket’s biggest event.
While Afghanistan is a quality side, having finished seventh in the World Cup Super League, Sri Lanka would have been extremely disappointed to drop the first match. Charith Asalanka was the clear best of the batters with 91 of 95, but starts were the order of the day, with only one top-eight batter getting a single-figure score. Kasun Rajitha was the best of the ball with two wickets, but with Matheesha Pathirana and Dasun Shanaka both going at more than seven runs per over, it was always going to be hard to defend a middling total of 268.
Afghanistan is in a different position to most of its history, not only being the higher ranked nation of an ODI series but also in a year when they have automatically secured their place in an ODI World Cup without having to go through the preliminary qualifier. Afghanistan’s chances of winning this series seemingly took a hit last week when Rashid Khan, who had averaged just 18.39 with the ball in the previous couple of years, was ruled out of at least the first two matches of the series with a lower back injury. After plenty of chopping and changing, the captaincy era of Hashmatullah Shahidi is looking good, having won nine of his 11 completed matches in charge. It’s finally looking like Afghan cricket is stable and in familiar conditions in India, they should compete well at the World Cup.
It was the bowlers who set up Afghanistan’s win in the first ODI, with all chipping in with at least one wicket. While the expensive spells of Fazalhaq Farooqi and Noor Ahmad can probably be excused due to only having just returned from the IPL, Azmatullah Omarzai was most impressive with 1/35 from his eight overs. With the bat, it was simply a dominant performance, with all dismissed batters getting into double figures. The young Ibrahim Zadran continued his extraordinary ODI form with 98, a knock that now pushes his average to 66.37 from nine ODI matches. With the batters all now in some form and Afghanistan knowing they have won two of their last three ODI matches against Sri Lanka, they should be confident of picking up another win and taking the series with a game to spare.
⚡ Players to watch: Angelo Mathews has struggled in ODI cricket as of late, having not scored above 20 since July of 2019. However, the big all-rounder averages 47.10 at this venue with five scores of 50 and will be looking to reclaim the best of that form.
Rahmat Shah has a solid ODI record averaging 38.26; however, he seems to enjoy playing against Sri Lanka more, averaging 43.50 against the island nation, admittedly at a low strike rate of just 73.90.
📋 Stat attack: The chasing team has won ten of the last 14 ODI matches at this venue.
- Sri Lanka has struck no more than three total sixes in any of their last five ODIs.
- 21 of Dimuth Karunaratne’s 31 ODI batting innings have come in World Cup years.
- The average score batting first at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium is precisely 250
- Fazalhaq Farooqi has only gone wicketless twice in his ODI career, while taking at least two wickets in seven of his 11 matches.
- Ibrahim Zadran has scores of 106, 10, 162 and 98 from four ODI innings against Sri Lanka
- Mohammad Nabi has two wickets against Angelo Mathews while being hit for 23 runs from 39 balls.
- Kasun Rajitha has taken at least two wickets in six of his last eight ODI matches
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