Both Australia and Sri Lanka will be gunning for a win when they play in their respective third game of the Champions Trophy 2013 on Monday. We’ll have live scores of this match from the Oval starting at 9.55 pm AEST.
This game is a virtual quarter-final for the fourth and the final semi-final spot in the Champions Trophy this year.
But there’s a twist; a Sri Lankan win will guarantee them a semi-final spot while Australia need not only a victory but also for their net run-rate to improve enough to be able to topple New Zealand off their current second place.
As things currently stand, Australia’s crushing loss to England in their opener means their NRR stands at an abysmal -0.96. New Zealand, on the other hand ran home winners in their opener against Sri Lanka by a wicket but with almost 14 overs to spare and despite their defeat to England, are way ahead at +0.77.
To give you a perspective of how difficult the task is for Australia, if they bat first and score 250, they need to bowl Sri Lanka for approximately 125 to get close to the New Zealand net run-rate.
Similarly, if Sri Lanka get to 200 batting first, Australia need to get to it in around 28 overs to qualify for the semi-finals. In short, it will need a mini-miracle for them to go through.
In part, this is to do with their rained-off game against New Zealand in which they seemed to have got to a strong position before the game got abandoned. But mostly, it’s been their poor efforts with the bat, ball, field and issues off the field that have been the cause of their shoddiness.
Captain Michael Clarke displayed his usual candour while talking of the Dave Warner situation and its fallout when he said, “The feeling in the camp has obviously been a little bit different over the past few days because there’s been a little bit of disappointment in one of our players.” How the side handles the fallout will be a bigger test of Clarke and the two-time defending champions.
There’s a good chance Clarke will not play this game as well which means George Bailey will be left to take up the captaincy role.
The task is far simpler for Sri Lanka on paper. They need a win and they will be through to the semi-finals. But crucially, apart from their shock victory over England, they have looked quite below-par in the tournament.
A couple of losses in the warm-up games was followed by a dismal batting show against New Zealand that they finally managed to resurrect against England. Kumar Sangakkara was at the helm of it as he crashed an unbeaten century to guide his side to a win.
What surprised many of the fans including the commentators at that time was the promotion of bottom-order player Nuwan Kulasekara to the number five spot and his subsequent blazing half-century that shocked the English bowlers into a defeat.
Whether or not Angelo Mathews will attempt that move again is a different story but it just shows he’s willing to experiment and won’t be averse to surprise the opposition.
Lasith Malinga continues to remain a threat although on a slowish Oval track, the Sri Lankan spinners could create problems for the Australian batsmen.
Rangana Herath was the only spinner chosen for the previous game but it won’t be a surprise if someone like Sachithra Senanayake gets a game here.
Live coverage of the game begins from 9.55 pm AEST on Monday and you can add your opinion in the comments section below.