As Afghanistan and Sri Lanka prepare to face off in Pune on October 30, the middle-ranking teams in the tournament are in a position of uncertainty, with four teams holding 4 points each and vying for a spot in the Top 4. Both Afghanistan and Sri Lanka have each won 2 out of their 5 matches in the competition. Sri Lanka currently holds the fifth position with a notably better net run rate (NRR), while Afghanistan sits in the seventh position. This crucial match will determine which team remains in contention for a semi-final berth.
In their head-to-head history, these two teams have played 11 ODIs, with Sri Lanka winning 7 and Afghanistan winning 3, while one match ended without a result. Their most recent encounter took place in September 2023, when Sri Lanka narrowly defeated Afghanistan by a margin of just 2 runs. These teams have met twice in previous World Cups, with Sri Lanka emerging victorious both times. In 2019, Sri Lanka secured a 34-run win (by DLS method), and in 2015, they won by 4 wickets. It’s worth noting that both of these teams have made significant progress and improvements over the past few years.
The playing eleven consists of Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi (serving as the Captain), Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis (acting as the Vice-Captain and Wicketkeeper), Dhananjaya de Silva, Maheesh Theekshana, Kasun Rajitha, and Dilshan Madushanka. Notably, this match marks the first time India is absent from an ODI at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune. In the past, India has participated in all eight ODIs hosted at this venue, securing victories in five of them.
Pune’s historical data suggests an equilibrium in terms of the choice to bat or bowl first. Four teams have achieved success by setting a target, and an equal number have triumphed while defending a total. The Pune pitch typically offers favorable conditions for batsmen, although fast bowlers may find some initial assistance in terms of seam and swing. Maintaining precision in line and length is crucial for exploiting the pitch’s inclination toward batting-friendly conditions.
In Pune, the temperature is set to reach a high of 33 degrees Celsius, and the humidity level is expected to be moderate at around 63%. While occasional cloud cover may occur, there is no indication of rain, as per Weather.com. Google’s win probability suggests a 61% chance of Sri Lanka prevailing over Afghanistan in this match. CricTracker, on the other hand, predicts that regardless of whether Sri Lanka bats first or second, they are likely to secure their third victory in the tournament. However, MyKhel offers a different perspective, favoring Afghanistan to win despite Sri Lanka’s stronger cricketing history. They place Hashmatullah Shahidi’s team ahead of the Lions.