Former India pace bowler Venkatesh Prasad has cautioned teams against complacency when it comes to facing Afghanistan during the 2018 Asia Cup, especially the wounded Sri Lanka who need to beat the 10th-ranked ODI side today to remain in contention for the Super Four stage.
“The Afghans come into Monday’s contest with their own baggage but they are no easy meat. They are now a team, who can put up a good fight against the best sides. Having won their last three one-day contests, they will face Sri Lanka with confidence and intent,” wrote Prasad in today’s Times of India. “Much of Afghanistan’s campaign will revolve around spin twins Rashid Khan and Mujeed Ur Rahman. In the hot and dry conditions, the duo will be a handful to handle. The Asghar Afghan-led side will hope for their batsmen to complement the spinners.”
Sri Lanka, having lost to Bangladesh in the Asia Cup opener in Dubai on Saturday, are in a must-win situation against Afghanistan.
“Before the start of the tournament, Sri Lanka were among my title contenders. I’m not writing them off just yet, but I do believe they have a lot of work to do to stay in the reckoning,” wrote Prasad, who played 161 ODIs for India.
Prasad lauded Lasith Malinga’s comeback to international cricket after a year against Bangladesh on Saturday, when the veteran pace bowler claimed 4/23 to give Sri Lanka a shot at victory.
“Anyone who wrote off Lasith Malinga before the Asia Cup have been sufficiently silenced. The wily bowler, who returned to ODI action after a year, showcased why he was still a force to reckon with his awe-inspiring opening over against Bangladesh in which he took two wickets,” wrote Prasad. “It gave the island nation’s campaign a lift, but finally his four-wicket outing was nullified with some uninspiring fielding and below-par bowling, especially in the death overs. The batting woes were a different matter during the five-time champions 137- run loss to Bangladesh on Saturday night. Smarting from their four-match ODI losing streak, the Sri Lankans will take on Afghanistan on Monday.”