Their house in complete disarray after consecutive defeats, Australia will look to wake up from their slumber and return to winning ways against an equally stuttering Sri Lanka in the World Cup in Lucknow on Monday. Both teams are in search of their maiden win in the tournament. While Australia suffered humiliating losses against India and South Africa, Sri Lanka faltered against the Proteas and Pakistan. Australia have looked like a pale shadow of their dominant selves in this tournament.
The five-time champions sit ninth in the 10-team league table owing to their horrendous Net Run Rate (-1.846), while the Lankans are 7th on the table with a NRR of -1.161.
The Aussies desperately need to get their act together if they want to keep their fate in their own hands.
But it is easier said than done. Australia have lost seven of their last eight ODIs comprehensively.
During this tournament, they have performed poorly in all three departments of the game. The Men from Down Under have been uncharacteristically sloppy in the field.
The Australians have dropped a whopping six catches in two games — the most by any team so far in this edition of the World Cup.
Their bowling attack has also looked toothless. They have failed miserably with the bat, suffering mini-collapses, and are yet to cross 200 runs. They were rocked by India’s spin bowling in the opener and then by the South African pacers.
But facing the battered and bruised Sri Lankan bowling attack could be the perfect opportunity for the Australian batters to find some form.
The Australians are also familiar with the Ekana pitch having trained in the city for close to a week and played against South Africa here.
Skipper Pat Cummins had insisted earlier this week that they won’t be rotating their bowlers which means Australia will stick to their three-pronged pace attack of Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc with Adam Zampa and Glenn Maxwell sharing spin duties.
Sri Lanka too have underperformed at the mega event so far. They occupy the seventh spot on the points table.
While their batting line-up has done reasonably well, putting up scores in excess of 320 in both the previous games, their bowling is an area of concern.
In the absence of several frontline bowlers, Sri Lanka’s relatively inexperienced bowling attack has conceded a whopping 775 runs in their first two matches.
The Lankans looked on course to register their first win against Pakistan, but the inexperience of youngsters like 20-year-old Matheesha Pathirana came to the fore as the former champions couldn’t stop leaking runs that resulted in a World Cup record run chase.
With skipper Dasun Shanaka ruled out of the tournament due to a thigh injury, Kusal Mendis will lead the Island nation.
Chamika Karunaratne who is a like-for-like replacement for Shanaka will bolster the bowling attack and is expected to play on Monday.
Australia: Pat Cummins (c), Steve Smith, Alex Carey, Josh Inglis, Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Mitch Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa, Mitchell Starc.
Sri Lanka:Kusal Mendis (c), Kusal Perera, Pathum Nissanka, Lahiru Kumara, Dimuth Karunaratne, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Maheesh Theekshana, Dunith Wellalage, Kasun Rajitha, Matheesha Pathirana, Dilshan Madushanka, Dushan Hemantha, Chamika Karunaratne.
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