Australia v Sri Lanka, Sunday 31 October, 8.35pm (AEDST) at WACA (Channel 9)
Both teams performed reasonably well at the ICC World Twenty20 Championships in the West Indies back in May earlier this year. Australia won every game during the group and super eight stages, only to fall short to England in the final. Sri Lanka won enough games to progress through to the semi-finals but was also eliminated by the Poms.
However neither the Australians nor the Sri Lankans have played a lot of Twenty20 cricket since those World Championships. Sri Lanka did travel to New Zealand in late May, where they won one of their two matches, while Australia was disappointing during their two losses against Pakistan in England in early July.
It wasn’t too long ago when David Warner burst onto the scene and announced himself as one of the most intimidating Twenty20 players in the world – despite the fact he only stands at 170cm. The left-handed opening batsmen made his international debut against South Africa back in early 2009 and put on a spectacular show for the packed MCG crowd. He smashed 89 runs from only 43 deliveries, which included seven fours and six sixes. Warner has been a little out of form of late averaging only 13 from his last six Twenty20 matches. But if the 24-year-old fires at the WACA, the Sri Lankan bowlers will be forced to adjust their line and length quickly.
Lasith Malinga is one of the most unique fast bowlers in the world. Not only can he bowl between speeds of 140 and 150 km/h, he also has a distinctive and explosive round-arm action. The ‘slingshot’ style action generates genuine pace and even intimidates the bravest batsmen on the planet. In fact during a tour against New Zealand back in April 2005 – where he captured 14 wickets in two matches – Kiwi batsmen asked the umpires to change the colour of their pants because they camouflaged with the ball. The 27-year-old will thrive on the fast WACA pitch and will look to terrorise batsmen in the search of early wickets.
PITCH AND CONDITIONS:
A picture was taken of the WACA wicket on Friday and there were patches of green grass everywhere. If the pitch isn’t mowed or rolled too heavily in the lead up to the game, the seam bowlers will thoroughly enjoy a bit of extra pace and movement through the air. The weather forecast for Sunday is fine and 28 degrees. However the game will start at 5.30pm local time, meaning the low sunlight might cause a few difficulties for the side that has to field first.
In an extraordinary coincidence, the entire Australian squad is made up of players from Victoria and New South Wales. After injury setbacks and a consequent drop in form, Victorian quick bowler Peter Siddle is set to play his first match for Australia in nine months. He took six wickets in the recent Sheffield Shield match against Tasmania and a solid performance against Sri Lanka will go a long way towards a recall to the test team. Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin returns from injury, while Michael Hussey, Nathan Haurtiz, Doug Bollinger, Tim Paine and Mitchell Johnson have all been rested. Here is how the Australians should line up:
- David Warner
- Shane Watson
- Michael Clarke (C)
- Brad Haddin (WK)
- Cameron White
- David Hussey
- Steven Smith
- John Hastings
- Steve O’Keefe
- Peter Siddle
- Dirk Nannes/Clint McKay
The average cricket follower wouldn’t know too many of the new names in this Sri Lankan team. But players such as Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Muttiah Muralitharan – one of the most successful bowlers in the game’s history – will be familiar names to most. No official team has been announced for this game as of yet, so this team will give you a rough idea of who will be lining up:
- Mahela Jayawardene
- Tillakaratne Dilshan
- Kumar Sangakkara (C & WK)
- Angelo Mathews
- Chamara Kapugedera
- Thisara Perera
- Jeevan Mendis
- Nuwan Kulasekara
- Lasith Malinga
- Muttiah Muralitharan
- Dilhara Fernando
According to the current ICC World Rankings, this match will be played between the fourth (Sri Lanka) and fifth (Australia) best Twenty20 nations in the world, so there is no doubt that this match should be a close encounter.
A big plus for the Australians is that a lot of them have been playing together for quite a while, with all 12 squad members coming from just the two states. Australian selectors have also played it smart and picked a pure Twenty20 squad, meaning they’ve selected players who are suited to the quick and exciting format.
There is still a lot to like about this Sri Lankan team. They have a great balance between youth and experience, some sensible batsmen in the middle order and a unique bowling attack that has the ability to dismantle a batting line-up such as Australia’s.
Without the explosive Sanath Jayasuriya opening the batting, Tillakaratne Dilshan will have to step up and fill the shoes left by the Sri Lankan ‘master-blaster’. He needs to use his natural aggression and flare to set the tempo at the start of the innings and put the Australian bowlers off their game.
However the Australians have had a good break since their tour of India and will be fresh going into this contest. Despite their plethora of talent, a few of the younger Sri Lankan players have yet to play an international match on Australian soil, which will certainly work towards the home side’s advantage. Also players like Cameron White, Steven Smith and Siddle should all be keen to put in a good performance because they are currently vying for a spot in the test team.
If the Australians can take early wickets and expose Sri Lanka’s inexperienced lower middle order, they should be able to restrict their opposition to a relatively low score and win.