Sri Lanka take on Australia on Thursday October 28 m. in what will be their first big test of strength of the ICC T20 World Cup 2021 Super 12 stage at the Dhabai Cricket Stadium today at 7.30 p.m.
The showdown will be huge given Australia’s professional standings where they are known for their reputation to revel in big games even under strength which they did prove when Aaron Finch’s team despite not having the best of teams did defeat a strong South African outfit in their opening game.
The Sri Lankans, who started their world cup campaign on a scratchy record, have mounted their world cup campaign on a successful note having cleared the qualifying round with aplomb to head Group A from where they handed out Bangladesh a 5-wicket hammering in what proved to be a humdinger that went down to the wire in their first Super 12 clash.
That the Lankans have seemingly plugged a weak link in the frontline batting has been the high point of that turn around that has revolved around the form of Charith Asalanka and opening batsman Pathum Nissanka while down the line Bhanuka Rajapaksa has provided the final sparkle to touching victory which was a decisive half century when the chips were down against Bangladesh.
The 24-year old Asalanka proved to be the center piece to Sri Lanka’s victory against Banhladesh in carrying the side through from a wobbly 79 for 4. His fashioning of a masterpiece unbeaten 88 off 49 deliveries was indeed out of this world incredible fireworks stroke play that simply took the contest away from a threatening Bangladesh in like Jack Robinson in next to no time. The cog in the wheel to that victory spurt came in the form of Bhanuka Rajapaksa who walked into the middle with the innings in disarray to running up 86 off 52 balls.
The Pathum Nissanka effect to Sri Lanka’s turn around that has marked the effective plugging the batting right upfront opening link to holding true as stressed by Head Coach Mick Arthur in his assessment in the run up to the game against the Aussies has much to do in their world cup journey so far. His 24 off 21 was the cornerstone to lifting the side from the dumps on a solid 69 off 45 second wicket fronting together with Asalanka after Sri Lanka lost the early wickets of Kusal Janith Perera and Avishka Fernando. Watching him in action has as the head coach has made out has indeed been a reassuring tonic in his stroke-play by the semblance of his balancing of feet movement in attack and defence as emphasised by Arthur.
As much, the 24-year old Charith Asalanka has proved to be playmakerb stuff importantly plugging the pivotal No.3 slot in next to no time, his left-hand effect that looks steely in an equally balanced outlook of the explosive with his head down to the given ground situation. As the head coach as reasoned, Asalanka’s arrival in such a short time has been incredible having in Arethur’s words ‘come into our bubble from the tour of England.’
Australia’s bowling in effect, is their strong point as demonstrated against South Africa who were decimated to 118 for 9 in 20 by the pace of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood by 2 wickets apiece with Glen Maxwell and Pat Cummins a wicket each the added strength and the spin of Adam Zampa whose 2 wickets were as decisive. Their 5-wicket triumph was rounded on Steve Smith’s 35 off 34 with No.6 Marcus Stonis unbeaten 24 off 16 decisive in a frontline line-up of Warner, Finch and Marsh failing to deliver with a next best score of 18 from Maxwell. While that will be some food for thought to the Lankan camp, the test of it will be the Aussies professionalism where they are known to surmount their game on a given day. In that equation, it will require a herculean all-round effort for Dasun Shanaka’s charges to go the distance in a decisive game for Sri Lanka to inching closer to the last four. The tip of it could be how well the Lankans bowling attack tackles the experienced Australian batsmen.
SRI LANKA SQUAD:
Dasun Shanaka (Capt.), Kusal Janith Perera, Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya de Silva, Pathum Nissanka, Charith Asalanka, Avishka Fernando, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Chamika Karunaratne, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Kumara, Maheesh Theekshana, Akila Dananjaya, Binura Fernando.
Aaron Finch (Capt), David Warner, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Josh Inglis, Ashton Agar, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Pat Cummins (vc), Josh Hazlewood, Kane Richardson, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Mitchell Swepson.