About the Match
Afghanistan excelled in the qualifiers to make it to the Super 10 stage of the World T20 tournament and will start their campaign with the match against Sri Lanka on 17th March at Kolkata. The Afghans have a superb bowling attack and will bring all the firepower they have to try and outwit the islanders here; Sri Lanka on the other hand has put together a talented unit, which although lacks much experience, will definitely put its best foot forward to start their campaign on a positive note. The contest will not only be keenly watched by fans from both nations but the cricket frenzy hosts will also come out in huge numbers to support the teams on Thursday.
Their bowling is definitely their strength here and players like Lasith Malinga, Rangana Herath, Sachithra Senanayake, Nuwan Kulasekara and Suranga Lakmal have experience and great variations to stifle the opponents with ease. Youngsters like Dasun Shanaka, Dushmantha Chameera and Shehan Jayasuriya bring variety to the attack and also bring their all-rounder skills to the table.
The batting line-up consists of Tillakaratne Dilshan, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, Lahiru Thirmanne and Thisara Perera, who have years of expertise in winning matches for the team; the middle order must be cautious against the Afghan bowlers, and not buckle under pressure.
Overall, the Lankans have revamped their team to give it a good mix of young talent and experience but they need to stay motivated throughout to reach the end goals here.
Mohammad Nabi is a very resourceful all-rounder and his 4-20 helped the team restrict Hong Kong to 116 runs in the last qualifier; Mohammad Shahzad and Noor Ali Zadran built the foundation for the chase in a comfortable way, scoring 41 and 35 runs respectively. Mohammad Nabi and Najibullah Zadran then came along to keep the scoreboard ticking and steered the team towards a much-needed victory.
The team consists of well-balanced mix of pace and spin, who are in very good form at the moment; Asghar Stanikzai, Gulbadin Naib, Hamid Hassan, Shapoor Zadran and Noor Ali Zadran can take regular wickets with their fast-bowling tactics while Nabi, Samiullah Shenwari, Karim Sadiq, Amir Hamza and others can outwit the Lankans with spin. They have combined well in recent outings to prove that they are a tough unit to crack when they put their minds to the task at hand.
Their batting line-up is good with Shahzad, Stanikzai and Noor Ali Zadran clicking well with the bat while Nabi, Shafiqullah, Gulbadin Naib and other all-rounders can steady the middle-order. They must come out all guns blazing here in order to thwart the tactics of the Lankan spinners.
Afghanistan may be the underdog here but they have time and again proved to be a tough unit under crunch situations; Sri Lanka is more familiar with the ground conditions and this could give their bowlers an upper hand. Considering the form in the tournament, and the fact that the Sri Lankans are not playing to their potential, I'll place my money on Afghanistan