Following a resounding victory in their one-off Test match against Afghanistan, Sri Lanka’s skipper, Kusal Mendis, expressed anticipation for a more formidable challenge as they brace for a three-match ODI series. With Afghanistan establishing themselves as a force in white-ball cricket, Mendis emphasized the anticipated difficulty ahead of their clash, slated to commence in Kandy on Friday.
In previous encounters, Afghanistan showcased their prowess, securing a draw in 2022 and conceding a narrow defeat of 2-1 in 2023 against Sri Lanka. Notably, Afghanistan’s commendable sixth-place finish in the ICC Cricket World Cup underscored their potential, having triumphed over renowned cricketing nations such as England, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
Acknowledging Afghanistan’s evolution, Mendis credited their exposure to international leagues for enhancing their skill set and adaptability across various playing conditions. He emphasized the minimal margin for error when confronting Afghanistan, given their seasoned roster and competitive edge honed through rigorous competition.
Conversely, Afghan skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi exuded confidence in his team’s ability to clinch victory over Sri Lanka, highlighting their prowess as a formidable contender in the ODI format. With Afghanistan ranked ninth globally, Shahidi emphasized their consistent performance and resilience, particularly evident in their stellar display during the previous World Cup.
The upcoming series, comprising three One Day Internationals in Kandy, followed by three T20 matches in Dambulla, promises riveting encounters between the two cricketing nations. Afghanistan’s inclusion of seasoned players such as Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Mohammad Nabi bolster their lineup, presenting a formidable challenge for the Sri Lankan side.
Despite dropping former captain Dasun Shanaka due to form concerns, Sri Lanka remains optimistic about their prospects, banking on the prowess of players like Wanindu Hasaranga and Chamika Karunaratne. Mendis emphasized the team’s commitment to perform well on home turf, despite the absence of specific performance objectives for the series.
Looking ahead, Mendis outlined Sri Lanka’s long-term objective of building a competitive team for the forthcoming ODI World Cup, slated to take place in South Africa. With a focus on strengthening their bowling attack, Mendis underscored the imperative of formulating a strategy to navigate future challenges and elevate Sri Lanka’s standing in international cricket.