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Sri Lanka’s Dunith Wellalage (left) attends a practice session on the eve of their World Cup match against Afghanistan at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune on Sunday. Image Credit: AFP

Bengaluru: Sri Lanka will feel the absence of Lahiru Kumara in the rest of the World Cup after the seamer was ruled out with a thigh injury but the 1996 champions can bank on Dushmantha Chameera to fire, assistant coach Naveed Nawaz said on Sunday.

Kumara played a key role in Sri Lanka’s eight-wicket victory over defending champions England in their last game, taking three wickets. However, he sustained a muscle issue in training before Monday’s clash against Afghanistan in Pune and was replaced by Chameera.

“Well he was man-of-the-match in the last game. Obviously he bowled really well so it’s going to hurt us a bit,” Nawaz, whose side are fifth in the table and pushing for a semi-final place, told reporters.

Experienced bowler

“On the other hand we’re getting Chameera to come in. He’s an experienced bowler as well so if he’s picked to play tomorrow I think it’s going to come good for us.” Sri Lanka have played Afghanistan 11-times in 50-overs and Twenty20 matches since 2022, but Nawaz said they would not take their fellow Asians lightly considering both sides are tied on four points after winning two of the five matches they have each contested.

“Every game is a tough one for us. From the position we’re in, we’re compelled to win a lot of matches from now on. So we don’t take any team lightly. We’re more focused on what we can do rather than think about the opposition.

“We plan to go out there and play a tidy game ... that’s the way to go forward and that’s going to be favourable for us.” Afghanistan skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi said they would aim to build on in what is already their best performance in a World Cup following stunning wins over holders England and Pakistan.

“Yes, the team’s doing good and we’re all happy. I can say that we’ve had a good tournament so far and looking forward to the other games. It’ll be the best tournament for us in World Cup history,” said Shahidi.

'Aim to go to next round'

“We have a game against Sri Lanka tomorrow so we’re thinking of that now. And our aim and goal is to achieve and to go to the next round.

“Let’s see what happens tomorrow. Then we’ll think about other games and moving forward to the semi-finals.”