The spin war, the Pathirana problem, Afghanistan’s rustiness, and other issues

the spin
Afghanistan and Sri Lanka tied their most recent series 1-1

Sri Lanka has not yet qualified, while the men’s team from Afghanistan is going to the main game.

There is a complication to this. Ireland, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, and Sri Lanka were Afghanistan’s opponents in the ODI World Cup Super League. However, despite winning 11 of those 15 games, they hardly played any ODIs. Sri Lanka played 24 games but only managed to win seven, which caused them to place ninth in the Super League standings.

The fact that Sri Lanka and Afghanistan meet in Hambantota as evenly matched teams is a monument to Sri Lanka’s ODI collapse and to Afghanistan’s advancement despite major challenges. This is Afghanistan’s first major milestone run-up to the World Cup in October-November. In the meantime, Sri Lanka needs to improve their one-day performance before the World Cup Qualifiers in Zimbabwe, which begin later this month.

What to watch out for in this three-match series is listed below.

Due to their unfortunate circumstances, this side hasn’t played an ODI since November of last year, when they were last in Sri Lanka for a series that ended in a 1-1 draw. This year they played in a few T20Is, most recently defeating Pakistan 2-1 in Sharjah in March. Additionally, they recently finished the Green Afghanistan One Day Cup, their primary List A competition, during which a number of the national team members found their form.

However, they will face difficulties in Hambantota, particularly against Sri Lanka’s speed attack, which will include returning Dushmantha Chameera in addition to players like Lahiru Kumara and Kasun Rajitha, unlike the team they faced last year.

Wanindu Hasaranga formerly might have been able to compete on Rashid Khan’s level, but more recently, Hasaranga’s results have dropped. At the IPL, there was a gap between them. Rashid finished second on the list of wicket-takers with 27 dismissals and an economy rate of 8.23. Hasaranga averaged 8.89 per over while taking nine wickets in eight games.

However, it’s likely that neither spinner will make the series’ first pitch. Rashid is not available due to back pain. Hasaranga is having trouble with a foot illness. This means that players like Maheesh Theekshana, who just finished a respectable IPL season, as well as Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi, would have more responsibilities. Noor Ahmad, a left-arm wristspinner who participated in the IPL and has 16 wickets under his belt, is also a member of Afghanistan’s side.

However, spinners will have to deal with the strong crosswind that frequently blows in Hambantota. Typically, this entails tempting the batters to hit long balls into the wind.

Even though Matheesha Pathirana, 20, was relatively unknown in Sri Lanka in March, Chennai Super Kings and MS Dhoni turned him into a weapon during the IPL when they routinely challenged him with ending innings. Pathirana didn’t bowl with the new ball and seemed to have major limitations, while having an action that is even lower and even slingier than Lasith Malinga’s.

Sri Lanka might want to give him a shot, though, given the amount of attention he is now receiving. But is he prepared for this format? Can he consistently bowl new-ball overs in games where there isn’t an Impact Player substitute, as there was in the IPL?

In the final ten overs of an ODI innings since 2021, Sri Lanka has scored runs at a pace of just 6.97. Dot balls have been present in an amazing 39% of the deliveries they have received in that period. With Dasun Shanaka only occasionally being effective and players like Chamika Karunaratne and Hasaranga having little hitting power, it is obvious that there is a lack of firepower deeper down in the middle order.

By bringing Dimuth Karunaratne back, Sri Lanka may be hoping to better manage their wickets throughout the course of the innings, allowing players like Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, or perhaps Charith Asalanka to bat towards the end.
Afghanistan, on the other hand, has only marginally improved in the ten years since 2021. They have a 7.18 score, with approximately 39% of the deliveries they have faced ending in dots. Rashid Khan has consistently finished first for them during that time.