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Sri Lanka and Afghanistan look to bounce back on grassy Cardiff track

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04th-Jun-2019       
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Match 7 of the ICC World Cup will pit the two bottom-ranked ODI teams in the world - Sri Lanka (Rank: 9) and Afghanistan (Rank: 10) - with both sides starting off their campaigns with losses against New Zealand and Australia respectively. Tuesday's encounter at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff will be crucial for both sides as they try to find some momentum for tougher challenges ahead in the ICC World Cup 2019.
Out of the two, Afghanistan were the more impressive although Sri Lanka have won a World Cup back in 1996. The newest Test-playing nation, who only got this status last year, had slipped to 77/5 in their first game against Australia but battled hard to post 207 on the board before succumbing to a seven-wicket defeat.
The Lankans, on the other hand, were rolled over by the Kiwis for 136 at Cardiff and slumped to a 10-wicket defeat. Barring skipper Dimuth Karunaratne, who carried his bat through the innings for an unbeaten fifty, no one showed any fight in the Lankan innings.
On a seaming track, SL's susceptibility to pace and movement was exposed by Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson. A similar pitch is also expected for Tuesday's game with rainy and overcast conditions around in Wales.
Lanka will believe that with their slightly superior pace attack led by veteran Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal and Nuwan Pradeep, they would have a definite edge over the Afghans.
Skipper Gulbadin Naib's side mostly rely on their spin attack featuring leg-spinner Rashid Khan, off-spinner Mohammed Nabi and mystery spinner Mujeeb-ur-Rahman. If the track is as green as it was against New Zealand, Afghan spinners will find it really tough to turn the ball.
When it comes to batting, Afghanistan possess the superior fire power right from the top with openers Mohammad Shahzad and young Hazaratullah Zazai not shy to take on any bowling attack.
Najibullah Zadran has been in fine form in the middle order and the likes of Nabi and Rashid are dangerous coming down the order.
Cardiff is alien conditions for both these sides and team that will be able to modify their game sufficiently will come out on top in this encounter.
Squads:
Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Avishka Fernando, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Jeevan Mendis, Kusal Mendis (wk), Kusal Perera (wk), Thisara Perera, Nuwan Pradeep, Dhananjaya de Silva, Milinda Siriwardana, Lahiru Thirimanne, Isuru Udana, Jeffrey Vandersay.
Afghanistan: Gulbadin Naib (capt), Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Noor Ali Zadran, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Asghar Afghan, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Aftab Alam, Hamid Hassan, Mujeeb ur Rahman.

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