After being comprehensively beaten on all three fronts in their opening game against New Zealand, Sri Lanka will hope for a much improved performance against dark horses Afghanistan on Tuesday, 4 June.
Sri Lanka did not have the ideal start to their ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019 campaign, as they lost by 10 wickets to New Zealand. None of the batsmen could support captain Dimuth Karunaratne, who carried his bat with an unbeaten 52, as Sri Lanka folded for 136. Their bowlers, despite having very little to play with, also proved ineffective, finishing wicketless as New Zealand sealed the chase in 16 overs.
Sri Lanka's batting unit has now failed to last the full 50 overs on two separate occasions, including once in the warm-ups, and will have to pull itself up against a well-rounded Afghanistan attack. Likewise, Karunaratne will expect his fast bowlers to exploit the conditions, and the opposition's weakness against the moving white ball early in the innings.
Afghanistan might've gone down to Australia in their opening game in Bristol, but will back themselves to bounce back against Sri Lanka. Their openers both bagged ducks against Australia, but have shown match-winning capabilities in the past. Afghanistan were shored up by lower order contributions against Australia, which was a great positive, but skipper Gulbadin Naib would hope someone from the top order can hold the innings together.
Mohammad Nabi (Afghanistan): Currently ranked third in the MRF Tyres ICC ODI All-Rounder Rankings, Mohammad Nabi has been one of the the torch-bearers of Afghanistan cricket. Apart from his batting skills, the veteran can be expected to come in handy with his off-breaks, against a batting line-up dominated by left-handers.
Angelo Mathews (Sri Lanka): After having got out for a duck against New Zealand, Mathews will be expected to motivate his side with a significant contribution on Tuesday. With his supreme batting talent, the former captain, who showed signs of form with a half century in the warm-ups, has the ability to produce match-winning performances in any conditions.
It is expected to be a wet day, with outbreaks of rain, often of the heavy kind, throughout the morning and afternoon, which might well produce a shortened game at Cardiff. Seamers are expected to get ample assistance, with a 90% cloud cover for most part of the day.
Afghanistan: Gulbadin Naib (c), 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
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