Sri Lanka v Australia: 20th Match Group A, Saturday 5/3 – 8.00pm (AEDST) at R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo
AUSTRALIA’S WORLD CUP CAMPAIGN:
Game 1: Australia (6/262 – Watson 79, Clarke 58 not out) defeated Zimbabwe (171 – Johnson 4/19) by 91 runs.
Game 2: New Zealand (206 – N. McCullum 52, Johnson 4/33, Tait 3/35) lost to Australia (3/207 – Watson 62, Haddin 55) by seven wickets.
Game 3: v Sri Lanka at R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo (Saturday March 5, D/N)
Game 4: v Kenya at M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore (Sunday March 13, D/N)
Game 5: v Canada at M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore (Wednesday March 16, D/N)
Game 6: v Pakistan at R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo (Saturday March 19, D/N)
SRI LANKA’S WORLD CUP CAMPAIGN:
Game 1: Sri Lanka (7/332 – Jayawardene 100, Sangakkara 92, Dilshan 50) defeated Canada (122 – Kulasekera 3/16, Perera 3/24) by 210 runs.
Game 2: Pakistan (7/277 – Misbah 83 not out, Younis 72, Herath 2/46) defeated Sri Lanka (9/266 – Silva 57, Afridi 4/34) by 11 runs.
Game 3: Kenya (142 – C. Obuya 52, D. Obuya 51, Malinga 6/38) lost to Sri Lanka (1/146 – Tharanga 67 not out) by nine wickets.
Game 4: v Australia at R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo (Saturday March 5, D/N)
Game 5: v Zimbabwe at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, Kandy (Thursday March 10, D/N)
Game 6: v New Zealand at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai (Friday March 18, D/N)
You wouldn’t believe it, but Mitchell Johnson has taken the most ODI wickets in India by a foreign player. The 29-year-old claimed four victims against New Zealand last Friday to overtake the likes of Muttiah Muralitharan, Glenn McGrath and Courtney Walsh. However, Johnson will be faced with a brand new challenge this Saturday when he lines up for his first international cricket match in Sri Lanka. The fiery left-arm paceman has started the World Cup in astonishing form, claiming eight wickets to sit in second spot on the tournament wicket tally. Perhaps his recent success is because he is back bowling in his natural style. On Australian grounds, he is expected to swing the ball on a consistent basis. On the subcontinent, he isn’t expected to move the ball in the air, which gives him a license to angle across right-handed batsman and allow for natural movement off the pitch. Johnson needs to intimidate Sri Lanka’s openers and take early wickets to give Australia the advantage.
Tillakaratne Dilshan is Sri Lanka’s new Sanath Jayasuriya. Since transforming himself into an opening batsman, the 34-year-old has become one of the most innovative one-day players in the game. He averaged 55.55 in 2009 with four centuries and 51.16 in 2010 with three centuries – all at a strike-rate of over 100. Dilshan has a tremendous ability to turn games within a short space of time, mainly due to his incredible natural timing and strong wrists that allow him to hit the ball to all areas of the ground. He’s started this World Cup well, scoring 50, 41 and 44 in his first three innings. However the right-hander will be keen to stamp his authority on the tournament with a big hundred against the Australians – the best team in the world – on Saturday. Dilshan hasn’t scored a century since August last year, but if he is able to get on top of the Australian pace attack during the early overs of the match, a mammoth innings looms.
Heavy rain shower – maximum temperature of 30 degrees
Obviously the biggest talking point surrounding the Australian team at the moment is who will replace the injured Doug Bollinger. Cricket Australia recently announced it wouldn’t make a decision on the left-arm pace bowler’s replacement anytime soon, believing John Hastings is a more than acceptable backup at the moment – which he is. But no matter who the selectors choose to replace Bollinger with in the 15-man squad, that player won’t be in the best 11 players. The Australian side picked to play in the first two games of the tournament is the best team they have. And against such a quality opposition like Sri Lanka, it would be a major surprise to see any team changes, barring a sudden injury of course. Here is how Australia should line-up:
- Shane Watson
- Brad Haddin (WK)
- Ricky Ponting (C)
- Michael Clarke
- Cameron White
- David Hussey
- Steven Smith
- Mitchell Johnson
- Brett Lee
- Jason Krejza
- Shaun Tait
There are a couple of selection dilemmas for the Sri Lankan selectors for the team’s game against the Aussies. Young all-rounders Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera are both in good form, but only one can fit into the side. If the selectors want a more established batsman and a few handy overs of pace, then Mathews will get the nod. But if they are after a fiery 10-over spell and some late quick-fire runs, then Perera is the man. Selectors will also have to decide whether they want the left-arm spin of Rangana Herath, or the leg-spin of Ajantha Mendis in the side – or both. Here is how Sri Lanka should line-up:
- Upul Tharanga
- Tillakaratne Dilshan
- Kumar Sangakkara (C & WK)
- Mahela Jayawardene
- Thilan Samaraweera
- Chamara Silva
- Angelo Mathews/Thisara Perera
- Rangana Herath/Ajantha Mendis
- Nuwan Kulasekara
- Lasith Malinga
- Muttiah Muralitharan
The last time these two teams met each other in a World Cup game was in the 2007 final at Barbados, where Australia won convincingly, thanks to a brilliant century from Adam Gilchrist. Sri Lankan coach Tom Moody was then hit with a barrage of scrutiny for his team’s underwhelming performance. He returned home a few months later to coach his beloved state of Western Australia.
After hearing that story, who would want to be current Sri Lankan coach Trevor Bayliss? The former New South Wales player is well aware of the enormous expectations placed on his team’s shoulders, but there is no doubt he will be doing everything in his power to make sure Sri Lanka avoids that situation – again.
Both teams will know this group match is the most important one of the tournament before the finals get underway later in the month. A win here would mean either team would cement a high spot on the group table – a luxury heading into the super eight stage of the tournament.
Australia would be delighted with how it has bonded together as a team in its first few games. The form of the lethal pace attack has been outstanding – almost intimidating at times. Johnson, Brett Lee and Shaun Tait have not only taken wickets, but also developed a great chemistry between each other.
Sri Lanka was disappointing, to say the least, during its 11-run loss to Pakistan earlier in the tournament. It was a game the Lankans should’ve won – and they know it. Perhaps it was complacency, or maybe they just had a bad night. But whichever way you look at it, that loss was perhaps the one they needed to have in order to wake them up.
The toss for this match will be crucial. With a packed house and no natural light expected, chasing on the spin-friendly Colombo wicket will be extremely difficult – particularly for the Aussies since they rarely play in Sri Lanka. Pretty simple – win the toss, bat first, set a big target and bowl accurately.
Look for the Sri Lankans to have a survival mindset against the in-form Australian pace attack. But as their innings progresses, don’t be surprised to see them attack the inexperienced spin combination of Jason Krejza and Steve Smith during the middle overs.
Australia has had a dream run so far, but the Sri Lankans are primed to put an end to it. In front of a packed home crowd, expect the Lankans to play close to their best for the most important match of the tournament so far.
Sri Lanka to win