Sports Cricket 31 Aug 2016 Series win at stake ...

Series win at stake for Australia against Sri Lanka

AGENCIES
Published Aug 31, 2016, 1:21 am IST
Updated Aug 31, 2016, 12:49 pm IST
Marsh managed just one run in Australia’s two-wicket win in the previous game — the only match he played this series.
Tillakaratne Dilshan
 Tillakaratne Dilshan

Dambulla: Australia will look to seal the One-Day International series when they take on Sri Lanka in the fourth game in Dambulla on Wednesday.

The visitors lead the five-match series 2-1 and another win will be a huge morale boost after a disastrous Test series, where they were swept 3-0. Unlike the Test series, the ODIs have been hard-fought and competitive, with both teams landing punches alternately. The series was level after the first two games in Colombo before Australia went ahead with a narrow, thrilling win in the first of the two games in Dambulla.

 

The fourth ODI will see forced changes in both squads for different reasons. While it will be Sri Lanka’s first match in the post Tillakaratne Dilshan era, Australia too suffered a blow with Shaun Marsh flying back home with a broken finger.

Marsh managed just one run in Australia’s two-wicket win in the previous game — the only match he played this series. However, it was the fourth instance of an Australian player heading home mid-way through the tour. Mitchell Marsh, Shaun’s younger brother, and Steven Smith, the captain have both been rested, while Nathan Coulter-Nile returned home with a back injury.

 

Despite the number of changes, Australia have coped well with David Warner, the new captain, beginning on a winning note in his first match as international captain. What Australia will want, though, is more runs from him. Warner has managed just 19 runs in the series and will have to lift his game in Wednesday’s crucial encounter.

The positive for the visitor is that the other senior batsmen have stepped up. George Bailey’s 99-ball 70 steered them home in a tricky chase in the third match while Matthew Wade and Aaron Finch too have been among the runs. On the bowling front, the ever-reliable Mitchell Starc has continued from where he left in the Tests and has found good support in James Faulkner and Adam Zampa, the legspinner.

 

The go-to man for Sri Lanka in the ODIs has been Dinesh Chandimal, who is in the form of his life with scores of 80*, 48 and 102 in the three games. One of the finds of the Test series, Kusal Mendis, has also made two half-centuries but Sri Lanka will seek a more combined effort from their batsmen. The hosts have managed to score more than 230 only once and were particularly disappointing in the last game, where they were skittled for 226 despite Chandimal’s brilliant ton.

They will also have to quickly adjust to Dilshan’s retirement from the format. Kusal Perera, who slipped down to the middle order after opening in the first game, could return to the top while Milinda Siriwardana, who was dropped after only one game, is expected to return to the middle order. Australia are a win away from a tour-redeeming series victory. Whether it can change the pattern of the series, where no team have won two games in a row thus far, remains to be seen.   

 

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