U-19 Asia Cup 2018, semi-final 2: Sri Lanka vs Afghanistan, Preview and Predicted Playing XI
Both Sri Lanka and Afghanistan will aim to seal last available berth for U19 Asia Cup final, when they go up against each other in the second semifinal of the U19 Asia Cup 2018 at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka on Friday, October 5.
Sri Lanka U-19 dominated Group B and qualified by winning all three fixtures, While Afghanistan won two out of three matches and are ranked second in Group A.
Both are now lying on the verge of 2018 final and the winner of the semifinal will ultimately face India on October 7 in hope to get their hands on the reputed trophy.
In their most recent clash during ICC U19 CWC 2018 on January 17 at Whangarei, the Blue Tigers inflicted a comprehensive defeat on Junior Islanders. After opting to bat first, Afghanistan posted a decent total of 284/7 in 50 overs and then wrapped up the Lankans' innings at 202 in 37.3 overs to win the match by 32 runs (DL Method).
Sri Lanka U-19
They will be going into the semifinal of the U19 Asia Cup undefeated. Sri Lankan team started their Asia Cup with an impressive six-wicket victory over Nepal. In the next two games, Lankan boys dismantled both Hong Kong and Pakistan and won those games by 10 wickets and 23 runs respectively.
Batting: The Sri Lankan batting has not been tested throughout the season, which might be a drawback going into the semi-final. The openers Navod Paranavithana and Nishan Madushka shared an unbeaten stand against mighty Hong Kong and they are expected to take the U19's off to yet another solid start.
The Islanders will also bank on the likes of Nuwanidu Fernando and Naveen Nirmal Fernando, who have also chipped in with fine contributions. Their only concern will be Nipun Dhananjaya, who is not looking in the best of form. The u19 skipper will be eager to make a comeback and guide Lanka to final.
Bowling: Shasnika Dulhan is Islanders best bowler in the tournament with seven wickets in three matches and he is likely to rattle Afghanistan's top-order early on. Dulith Wellalage and Kalhara Senaratne have also proved their worth throughout the tournament having picked up six and five wickets respectively and these two will be the skipper's go-to bowlers in the middle overs.
Expected Playing XI: Nipun Dhananjaya (C), Navod Paranavithana, Nishan Madushka, Kalana Perera, Pasindu Sooriyabandara or Kamil Mishara, Kalhara Senarathne, Nuwanidu Fernando, Shashika Dulshan, Dulith Wellalage, Naveen Nirmal Fernando and Sandun Mendis.
Afghan Juniors will undoubtedly take a lot of confidence from their recent record against junior Islanders while an emphatic performance in group stage will work as a confidence booster.
Batting: Skipper Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Riaz Hussan and Azmatullah Omarzai have been three pillars of Afghanistan lineup. All of them have the ability to score big ones on their day and are expected to counter Sri Lanka bowlers from the beginning. While they will also bank on the likes of Abid Mohammadi and Azaz Ahmed to score some crucial runs in the middle.
Bowling: When it comes to bowling, Qais Ahmad will have a significant role to play. He is amongst the tournament's leading wicket-taker with nine wickets in three matches, and the pitch at this ground should suit his style of bowling. While Omarzai and Abdul Rahman who claimed eight and three wickets respectively are two other bowlers in the side with the potential to turn the game on their own.
Expected Playing XI: Rahmanullah Gurbat (C), Riaz Hussan, Ijaz Ahmad, Abid Mohammadi, Azmatullah Omarzai, Arif Khan, Baseer Khan, Abdul Rahman, Suliman Arabzai, Qais Ahmad, Rizwanullah Murad or Naveed Ahmad and Farhan Zakhil.