Following the six wicket T20 World Cup loss to Sri Lanka that effectively knocked them out of the tournament weeks ago, Afghanistan head to the Island Nation for a 3-game ODI series with a lot more than pride on the line.
What’s at stake? The series is part of the Cricket World Cup Super League that determines direct qualification for the 2023 ODI World Cup. The top eight teams earn direct entry to the global event while the World Cup Qualifiers will determine the other two sides.
While Afghanistan are seventh in the Super League points table, Sri Lanka are reeling at 10 and this series is crucial for their World Cup chances.
The Afghans are going all out – recalling veteran allrounder Gulbadin Naib and introducing uncapped 18-year old left-arm wrist spinner Noor Ahmad in a full strength 18-man squad. The same squad that blanked Zimbabwe away in June 3-0.
While former ODI captain Naib last played a 50-over game against Bangladesh in February, Ahmad has been building up quite the reputation in T20 leagues around the world lately. His 4 for 10 on T20I debut against Zimbabwe on June 14 this year is joint-best debut figures in a T20I involving two Full-Member teams.
Hashmatullah Shahidi leads the team that includes the proven Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman alongside Ibrahim Zadran, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Rahmat Shah and Mohammad Nabi, who stepped down as the T20 captain after the recently concluded World Cup in Australia where Afghanistan failed to win a single game.
A 15-man Sri Lankan team, finally announced on the eve of the first ODI will be led by veteran all-rounder Chamika Karunaratne and sees four players from the Australia series earlier this year recalled – Dhananjaya Lakshan, Kasun Rajitha, Ashen Bandara and Lahiru Kumara.
Seasoned Wanindu Hasaranga, Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Mendis make the cut while Chamika Karunaratne, Niroshan Dickwella, Nuwan Thushara, Ramesh Mendis, Praveen Jayawickrama, Jeffrey Vandersay and Lahiru Madushanka miss out.
The delayed squad announcement according to reports stems from the country’s sports minister refusing to ratify it – a requirement under Sri Lanka’s sports regulations – until an explanation was provided over the dropping of Karunaratne.
Danushka Gunathilaka, who was arrested in Australia on charges of sexual assault, has been omitted from the squad and handed a one-year ban from all forms of cricket by SLC. Dhanjaya Lakshan has been included as a like-for-like replacement.
Bhanuka Rajapaksa – who had initially been included in the squad – requested his release in order to take a break from ODI cricket.
Pace spearhead Dushmantha Chameera meanwhile misses out having undergone surgery in Australia recently over a long-term injury.
Sri Lanka: 3
Last meeting: 2019 World Cup, where Sri Lanka won by 34 runs.
All games are scheduled to begin at 9AM GMT and will be available on ICC.tv in select regions.
Dasun Shanaka (Captain), Pathum Nissanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Charith Asalanka, Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Mendis, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dunith Wellalage, Dananjaya Lakshan, Kasun Rajitha, Maheesh Theekshana, Pramod Madushan, Asitha Fernando, Ashen Bandara, Lahiru Kumara, Bhanuka Rajapaksa (released)
Hashmatullah Shahidi (Captain), Rahmat Shah, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Azmatullah Omarzai, Fareed Ahmad, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Gulbadin Naib, Ibrahim Zadran, Ikram Alikhil, Mohammad Nabi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Najibullah Zadran, Noor Ahmad, Rashid Khan, Riaz Hassan, Shahidullah Kamal, Yamin Ahmadzai, Zia-ur-Rehman
November 25, Friday – 1st ODI
November 27, Sunday – 2nd ODI
November 30, Wednesday – 3rd ODI
All games are at Pallekele, Kandy, Sri Lanka
Closer to the games, we will be announcing our Fantasy Picks. Stay tuned!