Sat, 20 Jul 2019

Sri Lanka WLWLL

In the spotlight

Against Pakistan, Glenn Maxwell showed off his skills - namely a rare combination of brutality and precision against spin - but also his drawbacks, beaten easily by pace when Sarfaraz Ahmed deigned to challenge him with it. Between the coach Justin Langer and his assistant Ricky Ponting, there appears a determination to ensure Maxwell is given the best opportunity to be a match-winner for Australia, more so after they attracted plenty of derision for holding him back too late in their chase against India. In 2015, Maxwell clattered the Sri Lankans for a brilliant and tournament-shaping century, just at the moment when the Australians were trying to shore up their place in the quarter-finals. The Oval and a less confident Sri Lankan side offer the chance to Maxwell to get his tournament going.

Australia's players have never forgotten Kusal Mendis after his match and arguably series-winning innings against them in a Test match in Kandy in 2016. It was Mendis' breakout performance, but he did not fare as well against Australia in subsequent innings, not topping 42 in four Test innings down under earlier this year. Nevertheless a couple of ODI half-centuries against them in 2016 and also a wasted start in their warm-up match in Southampton ahead of the World Cup have demonstrated that Mendis has the skill and nerve to build Sri Lanka's innings from the middle.

Team news

Nuwan Pradeep is still under an injury cloud for Sri Lanka, while Milinda Siriwardana is waiting in the wings should a change be made to the batting order.

Sri Lanka (possible) 1 Kusal Perera, 2 Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), 3 Lahiru Thirimanne 4, Angelo Mathews, 5 Kusal Mendis, 6 Dhananjaya de Silva, 7 Thisara Perara, 8 Isuru Udana, 9 Jeevan Mendis, 10 Suranga Lakmal, 11 Lasith Malinga

Australia are likely to take the field with four specialist bowlers, with Marcus Stoinis still injured but not yet replaced in the squad by Mitchell Marsh. Aaron Finch suggested that they will stick to the four-pacer plan, and Finch and Smith, who had a decent bowl in the nets on the eve of the game, are expected to help Maxwell out as the fifth bowler, providing ten overs of spin.

Australia (possible) 1 Aaron Finch (capt), 2 David Warner, 3 Usman Khawaja, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Shaun Marsh, 6 Glenn Maxwell, 7 Alex Carey (wk), 8 Nathan Coulter-Nile, 9 Pat Cummins, 10 Mitchell Starc, 11 Kane Richardson

Pitch and conditions

The Oval surface has thus far been on the slow, holding side, although this will be a fresh pitch. London's weather forecast is for periods of clouds amid sunshine, but mercifully not much rain.

Strategy puntStats and triviaQuotes

"I think he's always been a competitive beast. He loves the challenge, he loves the contest. I've never seen anything different since he was in the Under-19s, [as] an 18-year-old he used to love it. That's what the greats do, that's what the champions do. They love the contest. He loves the contest."

Australia coach Justin Langer on Pat Cummins.

"We are a team with limited talent. If you compare us with a lot of other sides, we have major limitations. For example, the India side has someone who hits a hundred virtually in every match. In our team, we've only had one or two centurions all year."

Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne is under no illusions as to the strength of his team.

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