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Dushmantha Chameera was added to Sri Lanka’s World Cup squad© Twitter

Looking to keep their semi-finals hopes alive, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka will face each other in the 30th match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium on October 30, starting at 2:00 PM IST. After beating England and Pakistan, Afghanistan moved up to seventh spot in the World Cup 2023 points table, notching four points with a net run rate of -0.969. They were defeated by Bangladesh, India and New Zealand earlier in the tournament.

Sri Lanka, too have registered two victories in five matches in this World Cup. The Lankans lost their first three matches, going down against South Africa, Pakistan and Australia. However, they bounced back with back-to-back convincing wins against the Netherlands and England.

Led by Lahiru Kumara’s 3/35, Sri Lanka bowled out England for 156 in their latest match. Kasun Rajitha and Angelo Mathews also chipped in with two wickets, each, while Maheesh Theekshana dismissed Mark Wood. Pathum Nissanka and Sadeera Samarawickrama were magnificent in the run chase for Sri Lanka with a 137-run partnership, taking them to an eight-wicket victory with 146 balls to spare.

Angelo Matthews, who replaced the injured Matheesha Pathirana, is expected to keep his place in the playing XI after an impressive bowling performance. The Kusal Mendis-led Sri Lanka could field the same playing XI, as from their win versus England, in an all-Asian encounter against Afghanistan on Monday.

Openers: Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Perera

Sri Lanka’s Pathum Nissanka slammed his fourth half-century in a row in the victory against England with his World Cup 2023 best score, an unbeaten 77. The 25-year-old opener averages 60.75 with a strike-rate of 91.35 while scoring 243 runs in the tournament. Nissanka has made two fifties in seven previous ODIs against Afghanistan.

Kusal Perera, on the other hand, hasn’t been scoring freely in this World Cup with only 94 runs in five matches. However, he is a big-match player and averages 42.66 against Afghanistan in this format.

The Sri Lankan openers will look to cash in early in the innings as run-scoring is easier against the new ball at Pune.

Middle order: Kusal Mendis, Sadeera Samarawickrama

Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama are the lynchpins in the Sri Lankan middle order in ODI cricket.

Samarawickrama has amassed 295 runs in five matches, topping the run-scoring charts for the team in this tournament. He slammed a ton against Pakistan while scoring an unbeaten 91 and 65 in wins against the Netherlands and England, respectively.

Skipper Mendis, meanwhile, has been at the forefront with his swashbuckling batting in the World Cup 2023. The wicketkeeper-batter has piled on 229 runs at a commendable strike-rate of 142.23 while averaging 45.80. Mendis’ best knock was a 77-ball 122 against Pakistan.

The duo, aided by their quick scoring in the middle overs, can help Sri Lanka take the upper hand in the middle overs.

All-rounders: Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Angelo Mathews

Charith Asalanka has made 669 runs in 27 ODIs in 2023, averaging 35.21 and registering four fifties. One of those half-centuries, a 79, came against South Africa in this World Cup, albeit in a losing cause. He also notched 25+ scores in two of three other innings.

On the other hand, Dhananjaya de Silva has scored only 73 runs in four innings. While the off-spinning all-rounder hasn’t been at his best so far, the conditions in Pune will suit his game. Angelo Mathews bowled a spell of 5-1-14-2 in his first match, the victory against England.

The variety brought by the Sri Lankan all-rounders will be useful against Afghanistan in Pune.

Bowlers: Maheesh Theekshana, Kasun Rajitha, Dilshan Madushanka, Dushmantha Chameera

Dilshan Madushanka has spearheaded the Lankan bowling in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 with 11 wickets in five matches. The 23-year-old left-arm seamer took four wickets for 49 runs against the Netherlands in Lucknow. Pune will offer similar conditions with the new ball, making him a potential threat to the Afghan top order.

Kasun Rajitha, meanwhile, has scalped seven wickets while also picking up a four-for against the Dutch side. Maheesh Theekshana has three wickets to his name so far. Right-arm pacer Dushmantha Chameera, who was named replacement for injured Lahiru Kumara is expected to be drafted into the playing eleven.

The blend of Sri Lanka’s pacers and seamers will be a major challenge for Afghanistan at Pune on Monday.

Sri Lanka’s Predicted Playing XI

Pathum Nissanka

Kusal Perera

Kusal Mendis (c & wk)

Sadeera Samarawickrama

Charith Asalanka

Dhananjaya de Silva

Angelo Mathews

Maheesh Theekshana

Kasun Rajitha

Dilshan Madushanka

Dushmantha Chameera

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