None of this was really foreseen during Afghanistan's innings, who were (obviously) sent in by Sri Lanka's captain. Their innings progressed without real torment, their batting was steady throughout and showed a maturity that some would say went beyond their status as an Associate in the I.C.C. Every batsman in the top eight reached double figures, with Stanikzai scoring a good fifty, and Afghanistan managed to make 232 before being bowled out in the 50th over. It shouldn't have been enough, It didn't look as though it would be enough.
From here it was the inexperience of Afghanistan that cost them the match, and not the experience of Sri Lanka. Field settings were too deep in the circle, allowing singles. It became obvious that Mendis was only looking for singles, and that Perera was going to slog at everything come what may, except the last ball of the over, where he would try and pinch a single to retain the strike. Unfortunately, the bowlers were unable to maintain a length that could contain this stroke play, and the field settings were exposed each time they were changed. Luck favoured the sloggers, with two close reviews going their way, and the ball kept falling into the gaps. Eventually, it all played out in Sri Lanka's favour to win by that four wicket margin.
So how does the argument stack up? The I.C.C has already announced that there will only be 10 teams qualifying for the 2019 World Cup as against the 14 in this edition. The proponents of this will point to the fact that Associate teams such as Afghanistan are not up to this level of competition - if they were, they should have been able to close that game out and win. They believe that by excluding the Associates, the World Cup will be closer and harder fought, and a better spectacle.