Sri Lanka v Australia Second ODI
Wednesday August 24, 7:00pm
After a relatively comfortable victory in the opening game of the series, Australia will be looking to extend their lead when they face Sri Lanka in the second ODI at the R Premadasa Stadium.
After losing a wicket in the first over having been sent in to bat, Sri Lanka steadied and looked on track to post a competitive, if not monstrous, total in the first game at 2/124 just shy of the halfway mark. However a mini-collapse saw that swiftly became 5/132 which robbed the home side of vital momentum heading into to the powerplay.
Nonetheless the in-form Dinesh Chandimal held the innings together with an unbeaten 80 off 118 balls, building on the platform set by Kusal Mendis who compiled 67 off 95 balls to make it four fifties from eight ODIs. Thisara Perera (21 off 14) and Dilruwan Perera (10 off 6) provided the punch at the death to drag Sri Lanka to a respectable 8/227.
Unfortunately for the hosts it was not enough as the Aussies overhauled the target with 3.1 overs to spare despite a miserly spell from debutant Amila Aponso (1-27 off 10 overs) and three wickets to fellow spinner Dilruwan.
Sri Lanka entered the match with an incredibly spin-heavy attack and while that seemed to match the conditions they may consider calling on either Suranga Lakmal and Nuwan Pradeep to boost the pace stocks for the next encounter.
After making just two with the bat and not being called on to bowl, all-rounder Dhananjaya de Silva may also be rotated out with Danushka Gunathilaka and Seekkuge Prasanna both in line for a recall.
Australia’s approach varied quite significantly from the hosts’ and ultimately proved to be effective as they never let the run rate required climb above 4.5 an over during their clinical chase.
Despite conditions that favoured the slower bowlers, the Aussies used just 11 overs of spin in the field, relying instead on their pace attack where Mitchell Starc (3-32) blasted away and James Faulkner (4/38) used his variety and change of pace to excellent effect.
Although they lost David Warner early, Australia adopted an aggressive approach at the beginning of their chase, thumping 61 off the first ten overs as they made the most of the new ball coming onto the bat. Aaron Finch led the way with a brisk 56 off 46 balls, while skipper Steve Smith followed up his century in the third test with a classy 58 off 92.
The experienced pair’s top-order heroics ensured that Australia’s shaky middle-order weren’t exposed early, although cheap dismissals to Moises Henriques and Travis Head put their respective places in the side on notice with the likes of Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh waiting in the wings.
However the most likely personnel change for the Aussies could come in the bowling attack where Nathan Lyon may be brought in to partner leg-spinner Adam Zampa, with Josh Hazlewood likely to be rested at some point throughout the series.
R Premadasa Stadium
Both sides were highly critical of the pitch prepared for the first match at the R Premadasa which was particularly dry and proved difficult for batting.
Even after picking an attack featuring six spinners, Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews suggested the surface was weighted too far in favour of the slow men so we should see conditions for the batting side improve, although it’s unlikely to be converted into a batsman’s dream within four days. It’s also worth noting that the side batting second has now won six of the past eight ODIs at this ground.
- Sri Lanka have failed to win their last six ODIs.
- However Sri Lanka have won seven of their past 11 ODIs at home.
- Australia have won five of their last seven ODIs, including their last three straight.
- However away from home Australia have won consecutive ODIs only twice since the start of 2015.
- Australia have outscored their opponents in the first ten overs in five of their last nine ODIs.
Not surprisingly Australia have retained strong favouritism for this game, following their comfortable win in the series opener with the home side again finding themselves unfancied.
On the surface the Aussies appear to have the much stronger form in 50-over cricket, however it’s important to note their inability to put together back-to-back wins on foreign soil. Moreover some of their deficiencies in the middle-to-lower order were masked by a combination of miserly bowling and aggressive top-order batting, however it remains a key concern, especially against Sri Lanka’s collection of canny spinners which is why I can’t be convinced to back them at such a short price.
The hosts themselves are still striving for the right balance in their starting XI and may also need to reconsider their strategy both with bat and ball, however they boast a strong record at home and certainly cannot be discounted. But after failing to trouble the Australians in game one I also can’t be investing in the home side at this point, especially given their struggles with the new ball in both innings’.
That leaves us to look past the match odds and Sri Lanka’s troubles with the new ball are exactly where we’ll focus. The Tigers’ strength in the field comes when their spinners apply the brakes with the older, softer ball as it is not often that their quicks are able to make much headway with the new cherry.
Similarly the Sri Lankans have an inconsistent top-order highlighted by the volatile pair of Tillekaratne Dilshan and Kusal Perera. As a result they have outscored their opponents in the first ten overs just five times in their past 11 ODIs, averaging 49 with the bat, while conceding an average of 63 with the ball.
Conversely Australia are generally at their strongest early on with Warner and Finch muscling the new ball to all parts, while Mitchell Starc has been in irresistible form of late, becoming the fastest bowler to reach 100 ODI wickets in game one. That’s also borne out in the data with Australia being ahead at the ten over mark in five of their last nine ODIs, including their last three straight.
So while I cannot have sufficient confidence to back Australia to go 2-0 up I am happy to side with them to continue their strong form in the initial stages of the contest by backing them to come out with the highest 10 over total.
BACK – Australia Highest 10 Over Total at 1.65 or bigger for 2 units.