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ICC World Cup 2019: Match 20, Sri Lanka vs Australia, Preview – Timid Lankan Lions face an uphill Aussie challenge

There's never any dearth in intensity with these two teams, but Sri Lanka's recent form indicates this could end up being a one-sided banter.

Lasith Malinga
Lasith Malinga. (Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Arjuna Ranatunga’s optimistic Sri Lankan side took on Australia in the 1996 edition’s final and we all know how cricket changed after that. A new powerhouse was born, which went on to take slow but steady strides towards the top. Sun was shining bright on Lankan cricket for long, but all they find right now is gloom, desperate to find some hope.

Australia kept adding more power to their line-up with every passing year before they faced a little adversity last year with David Warner and Steve Smith getting suspended. Nevertheless, they ended up overcoming it unlike the Lankan side, who are yet to recover from the retirement of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.

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Both these sides played a cracking game of cricket last time, which saw Glenn Maxwell score his one and only hundred in ODIs. There’s never any dearth in intensity with these two teams, but Sri Lanka’s recent form indicates this could end up being a one-sided banter. All the neutral fans can hope right now is for cricket to happen in the first place, and also both sides going all guns blazing.

Playing Combinations

Sri Lanka

Nuwan Pradeep was found practising on Thursday and he could be set for a return. The Oval has been a happy hunting ground for the quicks thus far and we might see Sri Lanka drop Jeevan Mendis from the XI. Angelo Mathews and Dhananjaya de Silva will be getting maybe another chance to prove their credentials in the middle order. Karunaratne will continue to open alongside Kusal Perera with Lahiru Thirimanne at number 3.

Predicted XI

Dimuth Karunaratne (C), Kusal Perera (wk), Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Jeevan Mendis/Nuwan Pradeep, Isuru Udana, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga.

Australia

Marcus Stoinis is not yet prepared to come back and we might see a similar middle order to the one that came out against Pakistan. Glenn Maxwell and Usman Khawaja need to start firing as soon as possible to take some pressure off the top three. Adam Zampa could play in place of Kane Richardson with the Aussies contemplating to bring back their lead spinner. Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins picked up 18 wickets collectively and will continue to be a major threat.

Predicted XI

Aaron Finch (C), David Warner, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Shaun Marsh, Usman Khawaja, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Kane Richardson/Adam Zampa

Focus will be on

Kusal Perera (Sri Lanka)

Australia bank heavily on their two fast bowlers Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc to do the damage and maybe we could someone like a Kusal Perera to counter-attack. If that will work or not is a secondary aspect to consider, but for the swashbuckling batsman to play outside of his natural game just because the bowlers are intimidating wouldn’t be productive as well.

Mitchell Starc (Australia)

Whenever Mitchell Starc comes across batsmen who are not very confident, he tends to slaughter them down with his pace. Sri Lankan top and middle order haven’t looked very compact in the middle as yet and the left-arm seamer will be wary of it. If he can strike first blood, he will capitalize on it and end up doing a lot of damage. He already has 9 wickets to his name this edition.

Head to head

Matches played – 96 | Australia won – 60 | Sri Lanka won – 32 | No Result – 4

Stat Attack

9 – Aaron Finch has hit 9 sixes in the tournament, the most by any batsman this tournament.

Broadcast Details

TV – Star Sports

Live Streaming – Hotstar

Match Timings – 15:00 IST; 10:30 local

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