Cricket World Cup 2019: Gulbadin Naib urges Afghanistan to heap more misery on struggling Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka arrived at this World Cup in state of disarray and their plight was exposed in first game thrashing by New Zealand

Gulbadin Naib is confident of Afghanistan's chances against Sri Lanka. Reuters
Gulbadin Naib is confident of Afghanistan's chances against Sri Lanka. Reuters

Gulbadin Naib, the Afghanistan captain, is confident his side can repeat their feat from the Asia Cup and inflict another defeat on beleaguered Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankans arrived at this World Cup in a state of disarray. There has been a widespread corruption purge off the field, while on it, the team have endured woeful results on it in the one-day international formats for much of the recent past.

Wholesale changes were made to the squad ahead of this tournament, with a new captain – Dimuth Karunaratne – installed, having not played ODI cricket at all since the last World Cup.

Given the chaos, their shambolic opening felt almost inevitable. They were fired out for just 136 by New Zealand, as they lost their opening match by 10 wickets in Cardiff.

Afghanistan fell short of batting out their overs in their first fixture, too, as they lost to Australia. But Gulbadin is optimistic of their chances when they meet a Sri Lanka side they beat by 91 runs in Abu Dhabi in September, when they meet again in Bristol on Tuesday.

“I saw the Sri Lankans play on TV, and they have lost few games in the past two years and they're struggling in one-day matches,” Gulbadin said.

“We have an opportunity to do well against them. I hope if we can play 50 overs when we are batting, definitely we can beat them. They also a good team, and we cannot take it easy against them.

“We can try to score big. If we play 50 overs we can make it difficult for them.”

Despite the fact Afghanistan are relatively new arrivals on cricket’s top stage, with this being just their second World Cup, Lasith Malinga, Sri Lanka’s senior players, believes they have more big-match experience than his side.

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Malinga cites the fact that the likes of Rashid Khan and Mohammed Nabi are regulars in franchise tournaments like the Indian Premier League as a reason for why the Afghans are capable of coping with pressure.

“They have good experience players because most of the players play in franchise cricket,” Malinga said. “They have that experience. They know how to accelerate, and they have all that confidence.

“The very important thing is handling the pressure. I think they have more experience, especially handling pressure. That's the big challenge for us.”

The fast bowler also believes his batting colleagues must show more resilience than they showed against New Zealand if they are to prosper.

“Patience is very important,” Malinga said. “We know these conditions. Whoever is the batsman, he has to finish the game if he is set.

“Whoever is there, he has to finish the game.”

Updated: June 4, 2019 08:25 AM

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