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    Good weather assured but Lanka up against formidable opponents

    June 15, 2019

    LONDON, Friday – At least Sri Lanka should be happy that they will finally get some good weather for their World Cup clash against defending champions Australia at the Kennington Oval here on Saturday even though they know they face a formidable opponent who are peaking at the right time. The forecast is for good weather although mostly cloudy.Sri Lanka are going into this game very much short of match practice – 11 days since they played their last World Cup game against Afghanistan while Australia not affected by bad weather so far have played all their four matches to-date to a finish. It is not so much the Sri Lankan bowling that has been of concern but their brittle middle order batting where players in the calibre of Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews have yet to put runs on the board against their names.

    The Australian game gives them a good opportunity of doing that if they and the rest of the team don’t think too far about the type of surface they are going to play on. So far Sri Lanka has been given green pitches, which has favoured the seam bowlers and their batsmen have struggled on it. Tomorrow’s (Saturday) game also doesn’t offer them much solace as there is green on the surface and against Australia’s fearsome fast bowling attack of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Kayne Richardson with their fast short-pitched bowling could be a handful.
    It will be a test of character for the Lankan batsmen against such a strong bowling attack which also has spinners in the form of Adam Zampa (leg-spin) and Glenn Maxwell (off-spin). It is not only against genuine pace that the Lankan batsmen have been found to be susceptible but also against leg-spin which they have to be mindful of. “We have been training against the fast short-pitched balls and I think we have an idea of how they are going to bowl having played against the Australians in the practice game. We know each other very well. So we have some kind of plans and we try to stick to them,” said Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne.
    Sri Lanka lost that contest played at Southampton by five wickets scoring 239-8 to which the Australians replied with 241-5. “If you take the whole series, or the whole World Cup, short balls are a serious matter. The fast bowlers have been taking a lot of wickets with bounces. We know they are going to go really hard against us, but the thing is, they can bowl only two bounces, so I think we have to be aware of those things,” said Karunaratne. “Some players, they are really good against the short balls. Some of them can’t. But if you can think you can go for it, I would say to the players, yeah, go for it, because we need runs, as well. Those are the plans we’ve discussed in the dressing room,” he said.
    While there is unlikely to be a change in the Lankan batting line up, the fitness of Nuwan Pradeep and the availability of their key bowler Lasith Malinga could bring about some changes to the bowling. Karunaratne said that Malinga who flew back to Colombo at the end of the match against Bangladesh four days ago to attend to his mother-in-laws funeral will be back in time to play in tomorrow’s game and in the event of that happening they would take a call on Pradeep and see whether they could rest him for the Aussie game and have him fully fit and running for the remaining matches.Pradeep who bowled without any hindrance from his dislocated right little finger at the nets on Thursday and yesterday underwent a fielding fitness test on his injured hand.
    There was cause for some alarm when Karunaratne took a blow on his left heel while batting at practice from a delivery from Kasun Rajitha and had to be given some medical attention. Sri Lanka manager Ashantha de Mel said that Karunaratne will be okay for tomorrow’s game. While showing respect to Sri Lanka, Aaron Finch’s side are working like a well-oiled machine and rearing to go. “It’s not ideal, is it, when rain plays a big part in a tournament like this. I think Sri Lanka have been unlucky with a couple of games they’ve had washed out. You look down their side, and there’s a lot of experience there, there’s a lot of world-class players. So Sri Lanka, they are going to be a very tough opposition, no doubt,” said Finch at the pre-match media conference.
    “You can never take any team in this competition lightly, but I think the fact that we’ve been playing consistently, basically every three days for the last week and a half, has been really positive that we’re in cricket mode at the moment. “We just play, travel, play, travel, which gives you a good opportunity just to keep the flow going and we get an extra day between this and the next game, and then it slows down a little bit toward the back end of the tournament,” he said.
    All-rounder Marcus Stoinis has been ruled out of tomorrow’s contest as well and Finch said they have not named their team yet. Australia have the option of going with an unchanged side that includes four fast bowlers as they did in their win against Pakistan or if not include Zampa for Richardson, knowing the Lankans weakness against leg-spin. Sri Lanka lie fifth in the table with four points and Australia second with six points – both teams having played four matches apiece.


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