Afghanistan Vs Sri Lanka, ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, Match 30: Three Key Battles To Look Forward To

Both Afghanistan and Sri Lanka currently hold four points, and a victory in Pune on Monday would take them one step closer to the last-four stage of the 2023 ODI World Cup. Here's a look at three key battles in the AFG vs SL game

Sri Lanka's Kusal Mendis bats against England in Bengaluru.

We are fast approaching the home stretch of the group stage in the 2023 ODI World Cup. With every day throwing up an interesting result, the battle for the fourth and final semi-final berth is truly heating up, with at least four genuine contenders for it. Two of those contenders - Afghanistan and Sri Lanka - will take each other on with the endeavour to surge ahead in Pune on Monday, October 30. (Match BlogStreaming | Scorecard | Preview)

Both teams are coming off resounding eight-wicket wins in their previous encounters. While Afghanistan brilliantly chased down arch-rivals Pakistan's target of 283 for a famous victory in Chennai, Sri Lanka brushed aside defending champions England's paltry target of 157 in Bengaluru to bounce back in the competition with back-to-back conquests.      

With their strong recent performances, the morale of both sides would be high, coming into Monday's clash. Both the Afghans and Lankans currently hold four points with two wins each from their five respective games, and a victory in Pune would take them one step closer to the last-four stage. 

Let's take a look at three key battles that could decide the fate of the AFG vs SL game:

Rashid Khan Vs Kusal Mendis
The quadricep injury to Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka gave top-order batter Kusal Mendis the added responsibility of leading the side, in addition to anchoring their innings. He has not done well with the bat since, and will be eager to change that. Standing in his way will be talismanic Afghan all-rounder Rashid Khan, who has all the tricks to trouble the best with his leg-spin. Mendis has a strike rate of 142.23 in the ICC World Cup 2023 so far, and would look to similarly dominate Rashid from the get go.

Mujeeb Ur Rahman Vs Sadeera Samarawickrama
Just like Rashid, 22-year-old Afghan off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman has all the variations to flummox batters. Mujeeb picked three wickets in his team's giant-slaying act against defending champs England, and has not done well as well since. He will look to get going against the right-handed Sadeera Samarawickrama, who is SL's top-scorer in the tournament thus far. Samarawickrama hit spendid unbeaten half-centuries in each of his team's last two wins, and would love to make it three in a row on Monday.   

Rahmanullah Gurbaz Vs Dilshan Madushanka
Afghan opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz has led the way for them with the bat, scoring 224 runs so far at an average of 44.80 and superlative strike-rate of 101.35. He will look to take the attack to Sri Lanka's new-ball bowlers with his audacious strokeplay. But doing that won't be easy against left-arm seamer Dilshan Madushanka, who has been his team's brightest performer with the ball so far. Madushanka has claimed 11 wickets in five games, including a 4/50 against the Netherlands, and will seek Rahmanullah's scalp early doors.  

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