Venue – Perth Stadium, Perth
Date: Tuesday, October 25
Australia came into this tournament as joint favorites with India, but the hosts now face an uphill battle to make it out of the Super 12s and into the knockout rounds. The top two from each of the two groups qualify for the semi-finals, and Australia realistically has to win all four of its remaining matches to get out of Group 1.
The reason for this was their disastrous opening match with New Zealand. Losing a close match would have been ok, but the Aussies were bowled out for 111 in their chase, meaning New Zealand won by 89 runs. This result was a killer to their net run rate, meaning that they will have to win – and win big – starting with this match against an in-form Sri Lanka side.
Sri Lanka was in trouble early when fighting to get out of the group stages to reach the Super 12s. An unexpected defeat at the hands of Namibia in their opener had them behind the eight ball, but a big win over UAE allowed them to right the ship, and they eased past the Netherlands to top their group. A nine-wicket win over Ireland in just 15 overs was a huge start for them in Group 1, with the convincing nature of the victory showing the seeded teams that they will be a force to reckon with when it comes to claiming a semi-final spot.
Australia learned the hard way that choosing to bowl first doesn’t always translate to a T20 win at this game level. They won the toss against New Zealand and put the Black Caps in to bat. The goal was to take a couple of quick wickets, but instead, the opening pair of Finn Allen and Devon Conway took Australia’s shoddy bowling apart to the tune of 46 runs from three overs. Australia was always chasing the game from this point onwards, with the World Cup hosts being outplayed in all three phases of the game.
Australia has the players to win in any conditions, but the decision-making was off here. They should have taken off the pace and brought in the spin of Glenn Maxwell earlier for a change of bowling direction. The leading cricketing nations all boast a winning ratio when batting second, so don’t expect a change in tactic if the Aussies win the toss again. Look instead for smarter decisions when it comes to managing the game.
The spin twins have been doing a job for Sri Lanka in Australia. Yes, their pace attack is down because of injuries, and their batting lineup seems to be hobbled more by the game. Still, if Maheesh Theekshana and Wanindu Hasaranga keep playing at this level, the Asia Cup champions remain a team to watch out for.
Theekshana (2/19) and Hasaranga (2/25) each bowled four overs against Ireland, and both were effective regarding wickets and runs conceded. Australia is in a tough spot. If Sri Lanka can get into their batting lineup with wickets early, then even an experienced and solid team can get flustered into making mistakes.
The Underdogs have won their fair share of games here. I wouldn’t touch Australia at that price, but Sri Lanka has shown enough form to be worth a gamble at 7/2 with BetXchange.