It was a day for the hard hitters. Two foreign men, Gayle and Afridi, both of whom are probably loved more in India than in their home countries, provided the Indian audience with some much needed entertainment after yesterday’s debacle.
Gayle came up with a murderous hundred, keeping the crowd more interested in catching the ball than the English players. And Afridi, who in the beginning of this week surprised us with his comment on being loved more in India than in Pakistan, today did it with his performance on the field.
Just two days into the Super 10s and we have surprises, shocks and entertainment. Let’s see what’s in store for tomorrow’s clash.
Sri Lanka vs Afghanistan
Transfers out: Dwayne Bravo, Tamim Iqbal
Transfers in: Rangana Herath, Rashid Khan
The two Asian sides have had quite contrasting build-ups to the World Cup. While Sri Lanka have found it really tough to cope with the retirements of Sangakkara and Jaywardene, Afghanistan have played delightful cricket in the qualifiers.
On current form, it could be Afghanistan’s game to lose. But the wiley old Sri Lankan’s are known for their World Cup exploits and are notorious when it comes to performing on the big stage.
Afghanistan have three big performers in Mohammad Nabi, Mohammad Shehzad and Rashid Khan, who have been instrumental in taking them to the Super 10s of the World T20. Apart from these three I do not think any other player from the Afghanistan team would make any significant impact against Sri Lanka tomorrow.
Stanikzai averages low and has a strike rate of less than 110. Gulbadin is erratic with both bat and ball (as seen during the qualifiers as well). Dawlat Zadran is yet to hit is stride and on a slow, low Eden gardens pitch, I would prefer Rashid Khan to him. Hamid Hassan is returning from an injury and wasn’t very impressive in the last game against Zimbabwe.
Nabi, Shehzad and Rashid are trusted entities and if I wanted to get Afghnaistan players into my side, I wouldn’t look any further.
Now, I expected the Eden gardens to offer more spin to the bowlers but it wasn’t the case. Afridi beat the batsmen more with his pace than his spin and Imad Wasim got a little purchase whenever he was brave enough to toss it up. But other than that there was just no noticeable spin from the pitch.
Probably it was more to do with the bowlers than the pitch, as Eden Gardens has traditionally been a sluggish slow turner. So, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s going to be the slow bowlers and the death bowlers who are going to have the say tomorrow.
Coming to the Sri Lankan players, the usual suspects Dilshan and Mathews haven’t been performing well for some time now. Dilshan’s last 5 scores read 27,12,75,0 and 0. But the fact that he has a good T20 record and wouldn’t be facing a potent bowling attack (in relative terms), I am tempted to bring him in. As the match is in Eden Gardens, I also wouldn’t be surprised if he came on to bowl at least 2 overs on a track that assists spin. But would I want a Dilshan over South African batsmen who can be trusted to toy with the Afghanistan bowlers? I don’t think so and thus despite the temptation, I leave him out!
Mathews bats too low down the order and often under bowls himself. His form off late has been awful too and hence I can’t take a risk by getting him in.
Chandimal could be a good bet but he doesn’t score that quickly. He has a strike rate of about 102 in T20s and even if he gets a 30 in 30, it wouldn’t hurt much. You could always save that transfer and maybe cash in on a David Warner/Glenn Maxwell/ABD getting a 50 in 30. But the good thing about Dilshan is that he scores quickly and is worth taking the risk.
Malinga is unfit, otherwise he would have walked straighnt into my team against a batting unit that hasn’t faced him much.
The other fast bowlers are not that dependable and I might as well save a transfer there.
The only Sri Lankan bowler that interests me is Rangana Herath. He is a skilful bowler and with Afghanistan having 7 right-handers in their top 7, I expect Herath to get at least 3 wickets. The Eden gardens track will assist him too and the fact that Afghanistan haven’t been able to play him well in the very little that they have seen of him.
No other Sri Lankan makes it to my team because their next game is after 4 matches, which doesn’t help me make use of them strategically. Hence I get them in for this game and then quickly transfer them out.
As for the Afghanistan side, I only bring in Rashid Khan because of the threat he poses to the Sri Lankan middle order.
I expect Shehzad to perish early against the likes of Kulasekra and Chameera.
Nabi could also be chosen as he provides us with a double scoring opportunity but I would think his off spin wouldn’t cause much of a problem for the Sri Lankan’s . The leggie has more variations and thus is a greater threat!
I have chosen two bowlers for this game because I cannot trust the batting of both these sides. The bowlers have 24 goes at the cherry and I expect them to hit the spot at least 2 times.
Captain for this game: Rangana Herath
Check this space tomorrow for the tips for Day 10. Happy team picking!