Sri Lanka and Australia shape up for first final
At long last, the CB Tri-Series finals are here. The traingular one-day international cricket series will be decided in a best-of-three between Australia and Sri Lanka. Join The Roar for our live commentary and live scores from 14:00 AEDT.
The sentimental vote might have wanted India in the final, after the touring side’s astounding demolition of Sri Lanka in Hobart, chasing down 321 in 36 overs to remain in contention with a bonus point win.
But Sri Lanka’s finals fate was ultimately in their own hands, and they duly defeated Australia on Friday to ensure that they reached the deciding matches ahead of their subcontinental neighbours.
India will head home for the Asia Cup, and for the generally dispirited tourists, it won’t be a moment too soon (though perhaps a month too late). They’ll have a few years to try to regroup before their next foray to Australian shores.
So now it’s Australia and Sri Lanka facing down, in a result that is probably fitting. Realistically, Australia would have to start underdogs, given that Sri Lanka have won six of their last eight ODIs against the green and gold on Australian soil.
A Sri Lankan win at the MCG in the final match of the 2008 tri-series was followed up by a 2-1 win in a standalone series in 2010, then three wins in a row this series after dropping their first match. Impressive stuff for a touring team.
Australia will need to lift their game, after a few fairly desultory batting performances have let their bowling down. An unsettled line-up may not have helped, with Matthew Wade pinballing around the order depending on the match, Ricky Ponting dropped halfway through the series, and Shane Watson last match starting at an unfamiliar No. 3.
David Hussey has had a brilliant series as a finisher at No. 6, topping the series run-scoring list so far with 412 at 82.4 with a strike rate of over 100, but generally he has lacked support from more than one other top-order colleague per match.
The batting will be strengthened, though, by the returning captain Michael Clarke, for whom Watson has deputised the last two games. The only question is who Clarke replaces?
David Warner has had a meagre series by his standards, though he came good with 68 two starts ago, and always offers explosive potential and fielding. Peter Forrest has made a hundred and two fifties in six matches, though his last two scores were single figures. Dan Christian was vulnerable at No. 7, but snared a hat-trick and a five-wicket haul on Friday night.
Brett Lee is also a chance to come back, though James Pattinson and Ben Hilfenhaus have done nothing wrong, snaring four and five wickets respectively in their comeback games.
For Sri Lanka, their top five have been in wonderful form, so they’ll be confident in their batting. Chamara Kapugedera will likely come in to No. 6 to replace the injured all-rounder Thisara Perera.
Lasith Malinga tops the tournament wicket-takers list with 14, while pace partner Nuwan Kulasekara is at the business end with 9. Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, meanwhile, will have something to prove after already learning he’s been left out of the Asia Cup squad. His ten overs in Melbourne the other night certainly had a bearing on the win.
All in all, it should be a fascinating content. Scroll down to get involved with the conversations on the live blog below.