Beware, for Australia are on the prowl. With recent one-day international series wins against India and Pakistan, they gave a glimpse of what they can do at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019; with the win over England in their first warm-up game, they’ve sounded out a downright warning to other teams.
Steve Smith is in sublime form. His 116 against England in Southampton on 25 May was a lesson in pacing an innings, as he progressed from caution to chaos. Others, such as David Warner, Shaun Marsh, Usman Khawaja and Alex Carey also scored some solid runs.
Australia’s bowling was good too – it has to be if you’re able to defend 297 against this England batting line-up – but that hardly comes as a surprise. Even during their slump, the bowling was never really an issue. But what is impressive was that they were able to put the brakes on England even in the absence of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, who will lead the attack in the tournament proper.
While the signs are clear from the five-time World Cup winners, they’re not as bright from Sri Lanka’s perspective. In their first warm-up fixture, they conceded 338 to South Africa and then folded for 251.
On a positive note, Dimuth Karunaratne found runs once again, with a valiant 87, while the experienced Angelo Mathews notched up 64. Sri Lanka will hope that runs from the leadership group can have a positive impact on the others.
Left-hander David Warner was in outrageous form during the Indian Premier League, but has experienced a mild slump since, with 96 runs in five one-day innings. But his knock of 43 against England looked promising. Can he build on it and make a big one?
If Sri Lanka are to do well at the World Cup, they’ll need their most experienced batsman Angelo Mathews to be among the runs. Mathews’ knock against South Africa had signs of a man in form, and if he scores well against Australia’s top-quality bowling attack, it’ll further boost his confidence.
The forecast says there will be a healthy cloud cover, but chances of rain are slim. The swing merchants will fancy their chances in these overhead conditions, but the pitch itself will be good for batting. An even contest is on the cards.
AUSTRALIA: Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Shaun Marsh, Alex Carey (wk), Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Kane Richardson, Pat Cummins, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Adam Zampa, Nathan Lyon
SRI LANKA: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Suranga Lakmal, Isuru Udana, Lasith Malinga, Kusal Mendis (wk), Kusal Perera (wk), Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal, Jeevan Mendis, Thisara Perera, Lahiru Thirimanne, Jeffrey Vandersay, Milinda Siriwardana, Avishka Fernando, Dhananjaya de Silva.