As the thrilling cricket series between Sri Lanka and Afghanistan reaches its climax, anticipation brews for the third and final ODI at Pallekele. With the hosts already securing a commanding 2-0 lead in the series, all eyes are on whether they can clinch a clean sweep against the spirited Afghan side.
Despite a valiant effort in the first ODI, Afghanistan succumbed to a resounding defeat in the second, highlighting Sri Lanka's prowess on home soil. Riding high on a wave of confidence, Sri Lanka enters the contest unbeaten in their last five international outings, poised to maintain their winning streak.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan, with just 1 win under their belt, is eager to salvage pride and leave a mark in the series finale. As the stage is set for another enthralling encounter, cricket enthusiasts can expect a tightly contested clash between the two sides.
The Lankan batting order has been in fine form in both the previous ODI matches.
The betting tip is...
Sri Lanka will score over 73.5 runs in the first 15 overs
Sri Lanka's batting line-up will heavily rely on Pathum Nissanka, who has been in scintillating form, emerging as the top run-scorer of the series with an impressive tally of 394 runs at an average of 78.8 and a strike rate of 114.53 in the last 7 matches. Alongside him, Charith Asalanka will be a key player, boasting a solid average of 57.33 from 10 matches.
In the bowling department, Lanka will look towards Dilshan Madushanka for crucial breakthroughs. With 16 wickets in 10 matches at an economy rate of 6.26, he brings potency to the attack. Wanindu Hasaranga's spin prowess will also be pivotal, having claimed 11 wickets in just 3 matches at a remarkable economy rate of 4.54.
Additionally, Pramod Madushan, Sri Lanka's leading wicket-taker in the series, will aim to continue his impressive form, having already secured 5 wickets in 2 innings, providing crucial support to the bowling unit. With such formidable talent in their ranks, Sri Lanka appears well-equipped to maintain their dominance in the series.
Asitha will continue instead of Chameera who missed the last match as well.
Predicted Lineup: Avishka Fernando, Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis (c/wk), Sadeera Samarawickrama, Charith Asalanka, Janith Liyanage, Wanindu Hasaranga, Maheesh Theekshana, Asitha Fernando, Pramod Madushan, Dilshan Madushanka
In the upcoming match, Afghanistan's fortunes will hinge significantly on their dynamic all-rounders, Azmatullah Omarzai and Mohammad Nabi, who have been instrumental in their team's performances. Azmatullah Omarzai, with a remarkable batting average of 152.00 in just 2 innings, promises to provide stability to the middle order, while also contributing with his off-spin bowling, having claimed 9 wickets in 10 matches at an economy rate of 7.15.
Mohammad Nabi's all-round prowess adds depth to Afghanistan's lineup. With the bat, Nabi has been consistent, scoring 137 runs in 2 innings at an impressive average of 68.50. Moreover, his off-spin bowling has been economical, boasting an economy rate of 4.10 in 2 innings.
Ibrahim Zadran's solid contributions cannot be overlooked either. With 412 runs in 10 matches at an average of 45.78, he adds stability to Afghanistan's top order, providing a platform for the team's innings. With these key players in form, Afghanistan will look to challenge Sri Lanka and salvage a victory in the series finale.
Mujeeb to come in for Naib.
Predicted Lineup: Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi (c), Ikram Alikhil (wk), Azmatullah Omarzai, Mohammad Nabi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman Noor Ahmad, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Qais Ahmad
Based on recent head-to-head encounters, Sri Lanka holds a dominant record, winning 4 out of the last 5 matches against Afghanistan, indicating their superiority in the contest. However, Afghanistan's competitive spirit cannot be discounted, with 1 victory in the same period showcasing their ability to challenge the Sri Lankan side.
Considering Russell Arnold's observation regarding the pitch similarity between the first and second ODIs, it's likely that the conditions for the third ODI at Pallekele will remain consistent. While the high-scoring nature of the first match may not be replicated, the initial overs could offer some movement for the bowlers, possibly in the range of 6 to 8 overs.
Sri Lanka has the statistical edge and will win the 3rd ODI.