Lanka face Aussie test
All has been rosy for the Lankan boys since that opening game against the co-hosts New Zealand but come Sunday they will face another strenuous test against another co-hosts, Australia.
This match is significant in other aspects too as the winner of this game might end up at number two in the group stages. With the ICC rule in event of a washout the higher ranking team in the group stage will go through to the next stage, this game adds another dimension to the competition. Apart from the trivial fact the teams have a real incentive of playing a third placed team in the group B.
Australia looking in ominous form in this world cup and apart from the batting gaffe against the New Zealand they are looking like a team to look out for. After being bundled out for 151 one would believe it could only be Australian bowling line up which could run amok in that formidable New Zealand batting line up.
Bowling has been brilliant for the co hosts with Mitchell Starc leading the pack with the pace swing and the reverse going for him. The Yorkers he bowls is reminiscent of the bygone times. One could not think of any bowlers of the modern times who could bowl Yorkers with such precision as Starc does. It was his adroitness that brought Australia just whisker away from the victory. Apart from Starc, the fierce Pat Cummins and the menacing Mitchell Johnson can create trepidations in any batting line up.
Batting line up has been the deepest any teams have in this event. Some people have their reservations against playing scores of all rounders. But if one watches them play they are in true sense all-rounders equally adept in batting as well as bowling. That could be buttressed by the innings kind of innings Mitchell Marsh and Glenn Maxwell played after being reduced for 60-4 in the tri series final against England. Australia went on to win that match.
A batting line up boasting James Faulkner at number 8 is to be feared as they could come back into the match even after being five down early.
Sri Lanka has found its feet going well in this tournament with their stalwarts Sangakkara, Dilshan and Jayawardena among runs. The unperturbed chase of 300+ against England is an evidence of batting fire power. However, they appear to be one hitter short for the late bursts especially after Jeevan Mendis was ruled out of the tournament owing to an injury. Sri Lanka needs to ponder over a possible event of in which Angelo Mathews is out in the middle early then only Perera is left with the thrashing job.
On the bowling front they are not very promising with the sharpness in the bowling absent. Lasith Malinga, back after along break due to an injury, has showed glimpses of what he has been doing in the past but still far from his best. This puts abundant pressure on Suranga Lakmal and Thisara Perera to deliver. With their experienced spinner Herath too down with injury Malinga needs to carry bulk of the burden.
Team News :
Sri Lanka has injury concerns with the veteran Rangana Herath and the fledgling Dimuth Karunaratne out due to an injury. Senanayake and Upul Tharanga are expected to replace the injured.
Sri Lanka (Probable) : 1. Lahiru Thirimanne 2. Tilakaratne Dilshan 3. Kumar Sangakkara 4. Upul Tharanga 5. Mahela Jayawardena 6. Angelo Mathews 7. Dinesh Chandimal 8. Thisara Perera 9. Lasith Malinga 10. Sachitra Senanayake 11. Suranga Lakmal
Australia is expected to be unchanged after their triumph over Afghanistan. Shane Watson’s omission may continue.
Australia (probable) : 1. Aaron Finch 2. David Warner 3. Steve Smith 4. Michael Clarke 5. Glenn Maxwell 6. Mitchell Marsh 7. Brad Haddin 8. James Faulkner 9. Josh Hazlewood 10. Mitchell Johnson 11. Mitchell Starc
The Pitch :
The match is to played at Sydney Cricket Ground and with the short square boundaries big hitters will be licking their lips. If Lasith Malinga does not strike early then Lanka could face an uphill task.
The only match played at this ground in this world cup saw incredible innings by AB Devilliers as he made use of short square boundaries to full effect. South Africa ended with a total of 408.
Last five non world cup matches saw scores of 234-280-243-220-252. Teams batting first won on the four occasions while India was unable to chase score of 252 and lost it comfortably. Chasing could be easy with the short boundaries and will be interesting to see the decision of the captain who wins the toss.
The Odds :
Australia is 1.28 to win the game and one would have to say that the odds are expected with the Australian batting and bowling firepower. We certainly cannot back Australia at such skinny odds but will back them if the odds gets higher on them. Back Australia to win this encounter.