Sri Lanka and Australia continue their T20 series in Colombo on Wednesday and they do so with an eye on both preparing for the next T20 World Cup later in the year as well as the situation of this series as a whole.
Australia were emphatic winners of the opening match of the series so Sri Lanka will be out to respond in this game and get a win which would force a decider. With few opportunities in this format before the next World Cup a dead rubber doesn’t really suit anyone but that won’t stop Australia looking to keep their foot on the throats of the hosts.
The scoreboard looked terrible for Sri Lanka after the first match but their performance wasn’t as bad as that would suggest. At the halfway mark in their batting innings they were actually in a decent position to launch to a big score but all their hard work to lay a platform and a foundation was undone in one over. That eventually meant that they were unable to put up a competitive score and their bowlers struggled as a result of that.
It is important for Sri Lanka not to panic going into this second match. They just need to tighten up in those middle overs and use a little more game awareness to rebuild when a negative situation comes along. It is important that they push hard for a win here not just for the status of the series and their own confidence but also for belief in what their new coach is doing. If they can put a better score on the board it will bring their bowlers more into the game.
When you consider that Australia didn’t play a warm up match ahead of this series and were entitled to come on for the run, the tourists will be delighted with how that opening match went. If there is more to come from them, and logic would suggest there will be natural improvement in them, then they are going to be a tough nut to crack in this match. Australia will be full of confidence with that in mind because they know a similar performance will have them very competitive anyway.
If there is a room for improvement it would be at the start of their bowling innings. I wasn’t convinced by the bowling combination in the powerplay so that is something that can be improved. The concern over the Australians would be that we don’t know how their batters will fare beyond the openers because we’ve not seen them in action in these conditions. The flip side of that is they had oceans of batting depth in that first game.
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You would imagine there will be the odd change to the sides given the short turnaround between the two matches. Matheesha Pathirana is waiting in the wings for his chance should Sri Lanka want to adjust their bowling attack.
Mitchell Starc tends to have his game time managed strongly these days so you wonder if he will suit up to go again here. If he doesn’t then Jhye Richardson is waiting in the wings. Mitchell Swepson is an option if Australia want a second spinner.
I took the under in the runs on Tuesday but the pitch played a lot better than many expected it to given the amount of rain that has been around and given that the line for the runs in the match has dropped a couple I’m going to change tack and go for the over. Clearly we saw in the first match that if Australia bat first there is every chance that they could run up a monster score which will certainly assist a 319.5 run line being covered.
Just because Sri Lanka only made 128 in the first game doesn’t mean that they can’t score more here. They were cruising at 100/1 in the 12th over but then lost three wickets in an over which won’t happen very often. One of those who was out in that spell was Bhanuka Rajapaksa who we saw in the IPL is a decent hitter of the cricket ball. Usually for 100/1 after 12 overs teams would cruise through to 160 and more so I think there was enough on Tuesday to suggest the over should be backed here.
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