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Gulbadin backs Afghanistan batsmen to fire


Staying positive: Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib
Staying positive: Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib

By Phil Blanche

Sri Lanka and Afghanistan are both demanding more resilience from their batsmen as they look to bounce back from defeats in their opening World Cup games.

The rivals meet in Cardiff today knowing that another loss would further harm their hopes of making an impact in the tournament.

Sri Lanka bowler Lasith Malinga has described the match as "must win" and has called for composure in response to a 10-wicket loss to New Zealand.

"Patience is very important. Whoever the batsman is, he has to finish the game," Malinga said.

"I feel players need to get confidence and we need to get mentally tough. The pressure is on us, but we have to play with freedom and do our best.

"It's a must-win game. The important thing is handling pressure, that's the big challenge for us. We'll try our best and hopefully will be there."

Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib also pinpoints batting as the reason for his side's seven-wicket loss to Australia having been reduced to 77 for five at one point.

"My message has been to look at the positives. We missed out early on and then we scored 200-plus, so if we have wickets in hand it could've been 300-plus," Gulbadin said.

"We need to not give away wickets easily, then we can have wickets in hand and then we have the potential in the last 10 overs to score 80 or 90 runs, or more.

"Any of the teams on this kind of surface in England can score 300 as it's not difficult to score runs, so the players need to play their game and stay calm."

Meanwhile, South Africa head coach Ottis Gibson has called on injury-hit South Africa to rediscover their conviction and feel-good factor, after quick-fire defeats by England and Bangladesh left their World Cup campaign on a knife edge.

"There's no anger with me, it's cricket we're playing," said Gibson, whose side take on India in Southampton tomorrow.

"There's nothing that says you're going to win, even if you're the favourite.

"Look at Anthony Joshua, he was the favourite and he got put on the floor.

"I'm sure he's going to get up and go on and in his next fight he'll probably win.

"So we must look at that sort of situation, we must get ourselves up off the floor, dust ourselves off and put our best game out on the field."

"My job right now is about the World Cup, getting us out of the little slump we're in. And then whatever happens after that, happens. So we'll see."

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