Afghanistan out to put up a strong challenge in ODIs | Daily News

Afghanistan out to put up a strong challenge in ODIs

Afghanistan cricketers training at SSC grounds yesterday supervised by their coach Jonathan Trott (Pic. courtesy SLC)
Afghanistan cricketers training at SSC grounds yesterday supervised by their coach Jonathan Trott (Pic. courtesy SLC)

The Afghanistan cricket team arrived in Sri Lanka on Tuesday one week before their scheduled arrival date of May 29 and commenced practices at SSC grounds yesterday. Afghanistan team led by experienced left-hander Hashmatullah Shahidi is expected to play three ODI matches in Hambantota on June 2, 4 and 7 and all matches are day matches. The few players who are involved in IPL are yet to arrive here and they will join the team on May 29.

These three ODI’s are the only ODI matches for Sri Lanka before their World Cup qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe which will commence from June 18.

We can’t take lightly this Afghanistan series as they have very talented players having experience in white ball format and both teams last met in 2022 November at Pallekele and the three-match series ended in a 1 -1 draw.

Opener like Rahmanullah Gurbaz who is also the wicketkeeper of the side having a lot of experience in franchise cricket all over the world presently is involved at IPL while wrist spinner 17-year-old Noor Ahmad, and leg spinners, Rashid Khan, Mujib ur Rahman also having a lot of experience and Rashid already has shown his potential as a big hitter and former Skipper Mohamad Nabi the useful all-rounder and all these players are in good form will challenge the Sri Lanka team.

Last series at Pallekele Afghanistan scored 313 for 8 wickets but the Sri Lanka team was able to chase this total while Ibrahim Zadran made a record knock of 162 in vain and Charith Asalanka scored a fighting knock of unbeaten 83 in 72 balls well supported by young Dunith Wellalage who hit a 44 ball 43 to ensure great victory.

The second game between the two teams was washed out but Afghanistan fought back strongly to level the series recording 60 run victory and opener Ibrahim Zadran hit his second century to seal their victory and he was named as player of the match.

Meanwhile this time young all-rounder Abdul Rahman earns a recall on the back of some strong performances in Afghanistan’s domestic One Day Cup competition, while Shahidullah Kamal, Yamin Ahmadzai, Zia Ur Rahman Akbar and Gulbadin Naib are named among the reserves of this 15-member squad and they are expected to get good training here at SSC and move to Hambantota.

Afghanistan have already qualified for this year’s World Cup courtesy of their seventh-placed finish in the recently-completed ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League and will be confident of a strong showing against Sri Lanka and in the 50-over showcase scheduled for the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka led by Dasun Shanaka is expected to take this Afghan challenge and the 15 member squad is not officially announced subject to approval from the Sports Minister. However, a 31 member preliminary squad already started training and the members of the squad divided into two teams played a few practice matches at SSC.

The selectors have recalled experienced test skipper Dimuth Karunaratne in place of Kusal Janith Perera who is not fit due to injury. Key leg spinner Wanindu Hasaranga also had a leg injury during the ongoing IPL and will miss this Afghan series. Pathum Nissanka the opener who is also not fully recovered to get the green light from the medical staff and Dimuth Karunaratne most probably will open in the Afghan series but Sadeera Samarawickrama is also in good form to get a place. Both Dimuth (45)and Sadeera (65) hit good knocks while experienced Angelo Mathews scored (45) at their practice game at SSC. Dushmantha Chameera who is also back in the squad had not shown any progress during the practice game last Tuesday.

Afghanistan Squad: Hashmatullah Shahidi (c), Rahmat Shah (vc), Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Ibrahim Zadran, Riaz Hassan, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Ikram Alikhail (wk), Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Mujib ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Abdul Rahman, Fazal Haq Farooqi, Farid Ahmad Malik.

Reserves: Gulbadin Naib, Shahidullah Kamal, Yamin Ahmadzai, Zia ur Rahman Akbar

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