The first phase of the Asia Cup comes to a close in Lahore on Tuesday when the final match in Group B is played out as Afghanistan take on Sri Lanka in a game which will determine the last qualifier for the next stage of the competition.
Sri Lanka head into this final group match knowing that they only need to avoid a big beating in order to make the next stage of the competition. Afghanistan have to win and they need to win big if they are going to the Super Four phase.
Afghanistan went into the tournament with the aims of causing an upset somewhere along the line and making it into the final four. If that is going to happen then it will need to be Sri Lanka who they beat. The problem is that their margin of defeat to Bangladesh in their opening match was so strong that just winning here is going to be no good to them. They are going to need to win by a pretty sizeable margin so they are going to need to take risks.
If Afghanistan are going to get the win in this match then they are going to need to come on for the run. There was no real threat from their bowlers in that match and they will need that to change both to win this match and also to win it by the sort of margin they need to. Their batting effort fell away under the weight of scoreboard pressure in the second half of the innings so batting first might give them more of a chance.
Despite concerns with injuries to key players coming into the tournament, the defending champions Sri Lanka got up and running with a comfortable win over Bangladesh and now they can ride home and safely make it through to the next round. They only need to put in a competent performance to make it through to the next stage of the competition but Sri Lanka are on a good run in ODIs at present and might well be looking to win this one and keep their momentum going.
After their win over Bangladesh to start the tournament, Sri Lanka have now won their last 11 ODIs and with a World Cup just a month away now they look to be heading into the big event in fine form. That win over Bangladesh proves that they can win even when they are missing some of their key stars so when they are fit and available this is a team that can be a serious force in 50 over cricket. For this match though their attack is a second string one so they might be looking at their batters to get the job done.
Sign up for a Boylesports account and bet £10 to get up to £20 in free bets! Perfect offer for this series! Click the image below for this great offer! New accounts only. 18+ T&Cs apply. Gamble Aware.
Afghanistan saw their seamers struggle in particular in the first match and they might look to change one of those. Noor Ahmad is waiting for a go but their best bet might be to play Riaz Hassan and hope the batting depth allows them to put up a big enough total to get them through.
Sri Lanka have no need to change anything from the XI which beat Bangladesh so convincingly last time out but given the likelihood that they are already through they might want to get a game into Kusal Perera in case he is needed later in the competition.
This Lahore track is a high scoring venue and we saw shades of that in the previous game here when Bangladesh cruised to 334/5 and although Afghanistan gave a good account of themselves they fell short of that total but we saw the pitch play beautifully. Ordinarily I would play the runs in a match like this but the situation skews the potential slightly because it is absolutely pointless for Afghanistan to play to just win the match.
They need to win by somewhere in the vicinity of 70 runs or with around 12-15 overs to spare depending on scores and they are only going to cover those sorts of margins by hitting big, whether they are batting first or second. That is going to come with risks and it might be that they fall short going for too much but the pitch isn’t likely to change so the boundaries appeal more than the runs here. The line is just 52.5 which looks low anyway when you consider that 64 were hit here in the game the other day. Throw in Afghanistan’s need to go big and that line looks very much coverable.
Back Over 52.5 boundaries for a 3/10 stake at 1.80 with Bet365