Sri Lanka hosting Afghanistan for the first time in a 3-match ODI with opening game commencing today in a day-night at the Pallekelle International Cricket Stadium at 2.30 will be an Even Stevens type of showdown going on paper, but with the Lankans put to the acid test by a rampant Afghan side. For, the Lankans suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Mohammad Nabi’s charges at the recent T20 World Cup in their opening fixture. But come back Dasun Shanaka’s team did with a comprehensive avenging of that defeat when the two sides met again in the Super 12 stage. Against that backdrop today’s clash would be going back to the drawing board from square one given the two sides squared it up in world cricket’s showpiece of course in the shorter format to today’s 50-Over affair. Having said that however, the past ODI clashes between the two sides have seen Afghanistan shock the Lankans a few times. Another bad past the hosts would like to put behind them well into the past is the defeat Sri Lanka suffered at the hands of world cricket’s minnows by 91 runs at the 2019 Asia Cup. Sri Lanka, skippered by veteran Angelo Mathews, was dismissed for 158 in reply to their opponents imposing 249 in the UAE. Of course that setback led to a major shake up of the Sri Lankan T20 team that has culminated in the accent on young blood with the imaginative Dasun Shanaka in charge.
While Shanaka’s men do have the edge this time around, Afghanistan will certainly be aiming at the Lankans Achilles heel.