World Cup 2019, AFG v SL: Sri Lanka bowlers deliver morale-lifting victory

Afghanistan, chasing a DLS target of 187, was bowled out for 152, with Nuwan Pradeep starring with the ball with a four-for.

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Afghanistan's Nabi celebrates the dismissal of Sri Lanka's Kusal Mendis in the World Cup.   -  AP

Sri Lanka bowlers successfully defended 186 after rain forced the match to be reduced to 41 overs.

KEY HIGHLIGHTS

OUT AND ALL OUT! Lasith Malinga nails another yorker and this time hits the base of Hamid Hassan's middle stump. Afghanistan all out for 152, Sri Lanka wins by 34 runs on DLS method.

WICKET! That could be the clincher for Sri Lanka! Dimuth Karunaratne, fielding at cover, attacks the ball and hits the bull's eye, Najibullah Zadran is caught short of his crease and Sri Lanka can celebrate. Najibullah's gone for 43 with Afghanistan 145 for nine after 32 overs. Lasith Malinga continues.

One run, via a wide, off the 31st over. Afghanistan 136 for eight. Sri Lanka, thanks to some accurate bowling, is inching closer to its first win of the tournament. Isuru Udana comes into the attack.

WICKET! Lasith Malinga nails his yorker and it's too good for Dawlat Zadran. It swings in and hits the base of middle stump. Dawlat is dismissed for 6, Afghanistan 136 for eight.  Hamid Hassan is the new batsman in.

Just two runs off the 30th over, Afghanistan 135 for seven, needs a further 52 runs in 11 overs. Lasith Malinga's into the attack.

Three runs off the 29th over, Afghanistan 133 for seven, needs a further 54 runs in 12 overs. Najibullah Zadran didn't want to expose Dawlat Zadran for four deliveries from Nuwan Pradeep. He decided against taking a single off the second ball of the over, but then collected a two and a single before leaving Dawlat only a ball to face. Suranga Lakmal continues.

Three singles from the 28th over, Afghanistan 130 for seven, needs a further 57 runs in 13 overs. Dawlat Zadran has defended well since walking in at the fall of Rashid Khan's wicket, but Najibullah Zadran holds the key to this match. The ball is nipping around if the bowlers hit the length and Afghanistan has a stiff task in its hand. Nuwan Pradeep continues, into his ninth over.

Four runs off the 27th over, Afghanistan 127 for seven. Another successful over from Nuwan Pradeep and the four off the blade of Dawlat Zadran could have been avoided. It was a forward push that should have been stopped by Lasith Malinga at mid-on. An untimely slip and the ball, despite the best efforts of Angelo Mathews, races to the boundary. Afghanistan needs 60 more runs from 14 overs. Suranga Lakmal's into the attack.

WICKET! Rashid Khan is bowled for 2, Nuwan Pradeep's the bowler again. This one straightens after pitch and Rashid is neither forward nor back to play it. Afghanistan 123 for seven, and you've got to say, it's advantage Sri Lanka at this stage. Dawlat Zadran is the new batsman in.

End of the 25th over, Afghanistan is 122 for six, needs a further 65 runs from 16 overs. Pradeep delivers a wicket after conceding five wides and leave the match hanging in the balance again. Sri Lanka needs another wicket, though, to tilt the balance of the match.

WICKET! Nuwan Pradeep traps Gulbadin Naib with a ball that nips back in sharply and hits the batsman on the kneeroll. Umpire Paul Wilson signals out, but Naib reviews and DRS says it's umpire's call. Gone for 23, Afghanistan 121 for six. Rashid Khan is the new batsman in.

Seven runs off the 24th over — Afghanistan needs 73 more runs from 17 overs — which ends with Najibullah Zadran reverse-sweeping Dhananjaya de Silva for a four to the backward point region. Najibullah had to dive and hope that Lasith Malinga didn't hit the stumps direct, after hesitating for a single, but he nervelessly middles the ball keep the momentum going for Afghanistan. Nuwan Pradeep continues.

18 overs left, Afghanistan needs 80 more runs to win. Gulbadin Naib and Najibullah Zadran look settled and don't have the pressure of run rate, too. Sri Lanka bowlers need to be patient and keep bowling the right lines and lengths, with the pitch offering plenty of assistance. Off-spinner Dhananjaya de Silva's into the attack.

Naib brings up the team 100 with a brace to deep backward square leg. Udana is back into the attack.  Six runs from that over. Afghanistan needs 82 runs to win.

Naib keeping Afghanistan in the hunt. Two back-to-back fours off Malinga but Perera keeps the duo quiet: just three runs off it. Suranga Lakmal is back into the attack.

10:10 pm: Najibullah Zadran isn't going down without a fight: he hammers two boundaries off one over. Eight from the over. Afghanistan needs 114 runs to win.

10:03 pm: And Nabi follows suit, Perera cleans him up. Najibullah Zadran at the crease. Three runs and a wicket from it.

9:59 pm: Another one bites the dust, and Sri Lanka's in command now. Pradeep grabs his second wicket, snaps up Shahidi for four. AFG 57/4 after 13 overs. Gulbadin Naib is in next. A wicket maiden that.

9:50 pm: Fifty comes up for Sri Lanka in the 11th over. Nabi pulls Pradeep over mid-on's head to bring up the first boundary in 40 balls.  AFG: 51/3 in 11 overs

10 overs done with and Afghanistan needs 141 runs in 31 overs.

Udana's figures so far: 3-0-6-1

9:41 pm: Nuwan Pradeep comes into the attack and immediately gets into the act! Zazai goes for the pull and can only top edge it to the fine leg boundary. Thisara Perera comes in and takes a splendid, low catch. Mohammed Nabi walks in at no. 5. AFG: 44/3 in 9 overs

End of powerplay overs

9:38 pm: Udana bowling a good spell here as Sri Lanka pulls things back a bit. Udana keeps bowling in the fourth stump line and manages to get a thick edge of Rahmat's bat. Matthews is on hand to snaffle that catch. Afghanistan two down!  Hashmatullah Shahidi comes in.

9:26 pm: Isuru Udana comes on and doesn't let Zazai clear his front leg to get under the ball. Just three single from his first over. AFG: 37/1 in 6 overs

9:22 pm: DROPPED! Malinga isn't impressed. Zazai pulls one high into the air and the deep-midwicket fielder Kusal Mendis floors it!  WICKET! Shahzad isn't too lucky, however. He balloons a slower ball straight into the hands of Karunaratne at short mid-wicket and departs for 7. Rahmat Shah is the new batsman. SL: 34/1 in 5 overs

9:13 pm: Zazai with some ferocious striking here! Malinga over pitches and gets the rough treatment before Lakmal errs in line, too. He dispatches those deliveries and the ball reaches the boundary in no time. AFG: 29/0 in 4 overs

9:03 pm: Pick that one out! Hazratullah Zazai with the sweetest of connections to that lofted shot over deep mid-wicket! It was in the slot from Lakmal for the southpaw and he accepts the invitation. Shahzad, too, joins the party with a back-footed punch through the point region for a four. AFG: 17/0 in 2 overs

8.59 pm: Malinga gets started against Mohammad Shahzad. Six runs in the opening over to start the chase. AFG: 6/0 in 1 over

Afghanistan's innings

Mohammed Nabi on his career-best four-wicket figures: "The pitch had nothing for spinners. I tried best to bowl with the conditions. I tried to turn and get some loop from my deliveries. It was also very good for me to bowl against many left handers. I set to a plan and tried to bowl my best in right areas with a slip to new batsman."

Afghanistan's revised target after DLS is 187 in 41 overs. (Correction)

8:43 pm: Too good for the no.11 batsman from Rashid. A leg spinner on the line of the middle and off, Pradeep misses and the ball hits the top of off-stump! SL: 201 all-out. Rashid finishes with two wickets.

Rashid Khan to no. 11 Nuwan Pradeep as 200 comes up for Sri Lanka.

8:38 pm: Lakmal showing some intent, too. Dawlat making the error by bowling short, allowing Lakmal to hang back waiting and hit it baseball style over mid-wicket and mid-on regions for boundaries. WICKET! Dawlat responds better by bowling a back of the hand slower ball yorker and Malinga misses it to have his stumps shattered. SL: 199/9 in 36 overs

8:32 pm: Malinga comes out flying... with the bat. Makes room and slaps a Dawlat short delivery over mid-off. SL 189/8 in 34 overs

Statsman Mohandas Menon says, "If Afghanistan can restrict/dismiss Sri Lanka to about 200 runs, then its target will be 186 in 41 overs."  I think Afghanistan will take that score.

MATCH TO RESUME AT 4 PM LOCAL TIME (8:30 IST). 41 overs per side with a 10-minute innings break.

The rain has picked up here and the umpires call for the covers. The players are walking off the field with Afghanistan well and truly on top in this contest after a roller-coaster passage of play in the last one hour.

The covers are finally coming off.

7:40 pm: Lunch has been taken in Cardiff. Good news at last: it has stopped raining and the groundsmen are busy draining the water off the ground.

6:52 pm: It is still drizzling and covers are in place.

6:24 pm: Bad news fellas... it's still raining in Cardiff. We haven't lost overs yet, yet being the operative word here. But we will in another 20 minutes.

5:32 pm: Deary me... Kusal Perera tries to reverse sweep Afghanistan's best bowler Rashid Khan and the ball gets an edge of his glove and its an easy grab for Shahzad! He departs for 78. Malinga is out in the middle and it seems like he doesn't want to hang around too long either. He was nearly run-out and stumped off consecutive deliveries. SL: 182/8 in 33 overs

Angelo Matthews now has three ducks in World Cups, the joint-most for Sri Lanka alongside Mahela Jayawardena and Arjuna Ranatunga.

5:24 pm: WICKET! Dawlat Zadran bowls a fast, full delivery and Isuru Udana's slog doesn't connect get bat on ball and is castled for 10! Perera will be left seething at the other end with that effort from his partner. Surunga Lakmal is the new batsman. SL: 179/7 in 32 overs

Perera, somehow, manages to remain unscathed amidst all the carnage at the other end.He is batting on 75 off 67 balls.

5:02 pm: The Perera's do manage to get a run-out among them. *insert hands on head emoji* Thisara taps it to cover and takes off but Kusal stays put. Hashmatullah Shahidi is quick to the ball and releases it to Shahzad, who collects the ball and disturbs the stumps to leave Thisara short of his crease. SL: 159/6 in 26 overs

Afghanistan's wrecker-in-chief with the ball Mohammed Nabi. PHOTO: REUTERS

 

4:59 pm: Sri Lanka is losing its heads here. Now, there is confusion in running between the wickets between Kusal and Thisara Perera, which nearly runs the former out. A direct hit would have had him. SL: 155/5 in 25 overs

This is the first time Nabi has claimed four wickets in his career.

11 balls bring five runs for Sri Lanka and four wickets for Afghanistan! Maddening stuff this!

4:50 pm: The conditions are still overcast and Hamid Hassan finds his groove again with the ball. Dhananjaya nicks one behind and Shahzad snaffles it! What on earth is happening! Four wickets in 11 balls and Sri Lanka is on the mat!  SL: 149/5 in 23 overs

Dhananjaya de Silva is the new batsman at no. 6.

Three in an over! Matthews edges to first slip. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

 

Kusal Mendis departs for two after edginf Nabi to first slip. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

 

Thirimanne drags a Nabi off-break on to his stumps. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

 

4:37 pm: WICKET! It's Nabi again! A nothing shot from Thirimanne as he tries to drag a ball spinning away to the leg side but only manages to inside edge it on to his stumps. Kusal Mendis falls cheaply again! After getting a sneaky edge of his bat from the first ball, he bowls a similar delivery next up and Mendis prods at it with a big stride, gets an edge to first slip. Angelo Matthews is the new man and he is on his way back too! Nabi, you beauty! Matthews pokes one on the back foot and he only manages to edge it to first slip. What is going on here at Cardiff?! SL: 146/4 in 22 overs

HUGEEEEE NEWS coming in!  South Africa pacer Dale Steyn is ruled out of the World Cup and will be replaced by Reeza Hendricks.

4:31 pm: Sri Lanka has brought up the best start at the end of 20 overs so far in the World Cup and is set for a big total. SL: 139/1 in 20 overs

Staggering stat shown by the official broadcaster. Sri Lanka has used 57 different players and has had five different captains in ODIs since the 2015 World Cup.

 

4:20 pm: Naib with another no ball and follows it up with two wides to Perera. Shehzad tries to change the field but the umpire Nigel Llong tells him he can't do that. Naib bowls one in the slot and Perera lofts it over covers to bring up his fifty! The southpaw in the process ends his 21-ball boundary drought. Really poor stuff from Naib as he bowls another no-ball in the over and Perera accepts the free hit with another hit to the fence. 19 off the over. SL: 128/1 in 17 overs

Nelson!! 111-1 after a risky two. It lasts just one ball before Thirimanne gets a single down to third man.

Yikes! Afghanistan has already conceded 15 wides in this match; the most recorded during an innings so far in this World Cup. The previous high also came from Afghanistan against Australia with 14.

Sri Lanka do not have a great record at Sophia Gardens. Can it improve on its poor run today? Read more to find out.

Rashid Khan is into the attack now.

4:06 pm: 100 up for Sri Lanka. The boundary drought is over for Sri Lanka after Thirimanne slaps a Naib free-hit straight past the bowler.  SL: 104/1 in 15 overs

3:59 pm: The pressure pays off in the form of a wicket! 33 dot balls and Karunaratne goes for a lofted shot and doesn't get to the pitch of the Nabi delivery, and holes out to long-on fielder. He departs for a well made 30. Lahiru Thirimanne is the new man in at no. 3. SL: 95/1 in 14 overs

3:52 pm: Afghanistan is pulling things back a bit with spin and Naib's medium pace. 27 balls since Sri Lanka's last boundary. SL: 86/0 in 12 overs

3:43 pm: Nabi and Mujeeb arrest Sri Lanka's momentum in the last two overs conceding just eight. Sri Lanka will be happy with the start after its shoddy show the bat against New Zealand in the first game. SL: 79/0 in 10 overs

3:37 pm: Nabi brings some respite with just three runs but looks like Perera is keen to make up for it. He steps down the track to Mujeeb and carves him to the leg side boundary before cutting him square to the point boundary. SL: 71/0 in 8 overs

Sri Lanka's Kusal Perera in full flow at the Sophia Gardens. PHOTO: REUTERS

 

Off-spinner Mohammed Nabi is into the attack now.

3:29 pm: A good over is ruined by a full delivery on the leg stump which Karunaratne puts it away with ease to the mid-wicket fence. SL: 59/0 in 6 overs

The Sri Lankan openers have negated the overcast conditions mostly due to the poor bowling from the Afghan new ball bowlers. Naib now turns to spin in the form of Mujeeb ur Rehman.

3:26 pm: There is a bit of drizzle in Cardiff at the moment but that hasn't stopped the boundaries for Sri Lanka. Perera slaps Zadran over mid-wicket and the bowler sticks one into the pitch and the ball flies over the head of the batsman and the 'keeper Shahzad for another five wides. Fifty up for Sri Lanka inside five overs with Karunaratne tucking a delivery to the fine leg boundary. SL: 52/0 in 5 overs

3:20 pm: Hassan is under the pump here! He bowls five wides before Perera slashes him over covers for a boundary. Ian Smith on the air says 'There is a hint of Sanath Jayasuriya in that shot from Perera' and we couldn't help but agree with his dominant bottom hand stroke-making. Karunaratne ends the over with another boundary to the mid-wicket boundary. 15 of his first over, 16 of his second. 37/0 in 4 overs

3:15 pm: Zadran helps pull the run-rate back a bit by holding one end on Karunaratne. SL: 21/0 in 3 overs

Hassan with a wayward start today considering he bowled two maiden overs to David Warner in the last game.

3:11pm: Perera comes out blazing against Hamid Hassan, pulling him for a boundary and slashing one between point and cover to run three runs. Hamid, then, goes around the wicket and pitches one up. Perera welcomes that with a smashing drive down to the mid-off boundary. Karunaratne prods on towards third man for another two to end the over. 15 runs off the over. SL: 19/0 in 2 overs

3:07 pm: Zadran struck Karunaratne with an in-swinger with the first ball but the southpaw gets behind the line and gets bat on ball for the rest of the over. Zadran errs with his line of the fifth delivery and Karunaratne tucks it away fine for a boundary to get Sri Lanka underway. SL: 4/0 in 1 overs

Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera open for Sri Lanka. Dawlat Zadran with the new ball.

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We are through with the national anthems of the respective countries. It's game time in Cardiff. Both sides searching for their first win. Who will open their account?

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TOSS UPDATE: Afghanistan has won the toss and elected to bowl.

Gulbadin Naib: "We want to bowl first. The conditions are good for the bowlers. It's a good toss to win. We struggled in the middle, we put a good total, but that wasn't good enough against a good team like Australia. Sri Lanka is a champion side. No changes."

Dimuth Karunaratne: "In the last game also we batted first. The batsmen have an idea how to bat here. It's (captaincy) not easy, it's a good challenge. They give me support. Jeevan Mendis is not playing. Pradeep is playing."

Sri Lanka (Playing XI): Lahiru Thirimanne, Dimuth Karunaratne(c), Kusal Perera(w), Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Isuru Udana, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga

Afghanistan (Playing XI): Mohammad Shahzad(w), Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib(c), Najibullah Zadran, Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Hamid Hassan

One change for Sri Lanka: Jeevan Mendis out Nuwan Pradeep is in

Overcast conditions in Cardiff with chances of rain later in the day. In other words, win toss, bowl first kind of day.

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Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib has stressed on the need to bat sensibly against Sri Lanka and believes the team has the potential to score 300.

Cardiff, one of the flattest cities in Great Britain, is a city of parks. It has more green space per person than any other core UK city| Know your venue

In four World Cups in England, Sri Lanka has never reached the second round and has won only four of its 17 games| Aiming to rise above chaos

This is the second World Cup appearance for Afghanistan — it had featured in the 2015 edition — and on paper, the side looks pretty balanced with a perfect blend of youth and experience|  Ready to rock the boat

Afghanistan and Sri Lanka will both be hoping to bounce back after heavy opening defeats when they meet in the Cricket World Cup on Tuesday.

Here's today's Match Preview:

The two nations were soundly beaten in their opening fixtures at this year’s tournament, both failing to bat out 50 overs before watching their opponents knock off below-par scores with ease.

Sri Lanka's innings lasted just 29.2 overs against New Zealand in Cardiff on Saturday as it posted a paltry 136 in testing conditions with only three batsmen making it to double figures.

World Cup 2019: Full coverage

The Kiwis knocked off the runs without losing a wicket, meaning Sri Lanka is yet to register a win in the Welsh capital in five games.

It is back at the same venue to take on an Afghanistan side who managed to do slightly better with the bat at nearby Bristol at the weekend, though a total of 207 all out was never enough to trouble reigning champions Australia.

The only previous World Cup meeting between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka came four years ago, with the latter victorious by four wickets in Dunedin.

However, Dimuth Karunaratne's side have lost nine of its last 10 ODI games in 2019, also suffered a 91-run defeat in its most recent meeting with its next opponents, at the Asia Cup last September.

Read: It's all about the speed!

Thisara Perera claimed five wickets in a losing cause on that occasion but the all-rounder will be looked to contribute with the bat in England, too.

His strike rate of 112.4 runs per 100 deliveries is impressive; of the 225 players to score over 2,000 ODI runs only three - Glenn Maxwell, Jos Buttler and Shahid Afridi - have done so at a faster rate.

Perera made 27 at the weekend while Sri Lanka struggled against the Black Caps' battery of seamers, Afghanistan will rely more heavily on its spinners to do the damage.

Rashid Khan is the key bowler for Afghanistan, having claimed 99 one-day wickets since the start of 2017, more than any other slow bowler.

Interestingly, none of the six sides who have opted to bat first in an ODI at Cardiff after winning the toss have prevailed. Considering the early start in English conditions, the captains may want to factor in the ground's history when deciding what to do at the toss.

Teams:

Afghanistan (From): Mohammad Shahzad(w), Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib (c), Najibullah Zadran, Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Hamid Hassan, Aftab Alam, Samiullah Shinwari, Asghar  Afghan, Noor Ali Zadran

Sri Lanka (From): Lahiru Thirimanne, Dimuth Karunaratne(c), Kusal  Perera(w), Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Jeevan  Mendis, Thisara Perera, Isuru Udana, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga, Avishka Fernando, Jeffrey Vandersay, Nuwan Pradeep, Milinda  Siriwardana

The match will be streamed live on Hotstar