A struggling Afghanistan team face an in-form Sri Lankan side in a crucial Asia Cup Group ‘B’ match here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Tuesday.
The result of today’s day-night game will decide which two teams of the group qualify for the Super Four stage of the six-nation event, which is being hosted jointly by Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
While defending champions Sri Lanka won their opening match against Bangladesh by five wickets in Pallekele, Afghanistan lost their opener to the latter by 89 runs at the Gaddafi Stadium last Sunday.
Therefore, Afghanistan need a big-margin victory against Sri Lanka to advance on better run-rate.
The Hashmatullah Shahidi-led team have to win by a margin of at least 68 runs or to chase down a target in 35 overs or less. On the other hand, Sri Lanka just require a victory to confirm as group leaders to qualify for the next round along with Bangladesh.
While Sri Lanka held a practice session on Monday, Afghanistan preferred to take rest following their game on Sunday under intense heat in Lahore. Both the teams held no pre-match presser either.
Sri Lanka look favourites on a track that is very likely to be batting-friendly. In the last match played at the same venue, Bangladesh piled up a huge 334-5 to which Afghanistan responded with a respectable 245.
Afghanistan may rest Gulbadin Naib or Karim Janat in order to test another pacer while Sri Lanka are most likely to remain unchanged.
The toss will also play a vital role as batting first will be helpful in setting a big total.
Earlier, Afghanistan’s assistant coach Raees Ahmad Zai in his post-match talk following their game against Bangladesh admitted that Sri Lanka were a good side.
“Afghanistan face a must-win situation against Sri Lanka and the boys will do their best to achieve all the targets to qualify for the next stage,” Raees said.
He also acknowledged that Bangladesh had outclassed Afghanistan in all departments.
“We played a good number of dot balls, hopefully we will overcome this problem against Sri Lanka,” the coach said.
AFGHANISTAN: Hashmatullah Shahidi (captain), Ibrahim Zadran, Ikram Alikhil, Najibullah Zadran, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Riaz Hassan, Gulbadin Naib, Karim Janat, Mohammad Nabi, Rahmat Shah, Rashid Khan, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Abdul Rahman, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Mohammad Saleem, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad.
SRI LANKA: Dasun Shanaka (captain), Pathum Nissanka, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Janith Perera, Kusal Mendis, Charith Asalanka, Dananjaya de Silva, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Mahesh Theekshana, Dunith Wellalage, Matheesha Pathirana, Kasun Rajitha, Dushan Hemantha, Binura Fernando, Pramod Madushan.