London, 16 June: Defending champions Australia will have to put David Warner’s bar-brawl controversy and questions surrounding their team culture behind them when they take on Sri Lanka in their final league fixture here tomorrow to decide the last of the remaining ICC Champions Trophy semifinal places. It will be a virtual quarter-final clash between the two sides at Kennington Oval but a lot will depend on the outcome of the Group A match between England and New Zealand in Cardiff to decide the equations.
If New Zealand win, Australia will have to beat Sri Lanka but if England triumph, they must beat the Islanders by a huge margin to surpass the Black Caps’ net run-rate, currently the best in the Group. A win will seal Sri Lanka’s place in the last four while a defeat will see them go home.
Sri Lanka’s recent success against Australia will provide a psychological edge to them — in the last 10 ODIs played between the two sides, Sri Lanka have won six while they drew the ODI series 2-2 earlier this year in Australia. Australia have just one point from two games, starting their campaign with a defeat to England and then having their game against New Zealand washed out.
On the other hand, Sri Lanka were skittled out for a paltry 138 against New Zealand in their tournament-opener but a superb bowling show by slinger Lasith Malinga saw them very nearly defend the total before losing by one wicket.
Sri Lankan batsmen, however, gave a better account of themselves in their stunning run chase against England to romp home against the hosts.
Led by Kumar Sangakkara’s unbeaten 134, they chased down the 294-run victory target with relative ease to keep their semifinal hopes alive. Their batsmen fired in unison against England in the last match with the likes of Dilshan, Jayawardene and Nuwan Kulasekara among the run-makers. On the bowling front, Malinga would need some good back-up from Shaminda Eranga and Rangana Herath to cause damage in the fragile Australian line-up.
The weatherman has predicted partly cloudy sky with rain or thunderstorm and it would be interesting to see what fate has in store for both the teams.
Teams (from): Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (C), Dinesh Chandimal, Dilhara Lokuhettige, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Shaminda Eranga, Rangana Herath, Mahela Jayawardene, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Jeevan Mendis, Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera, Kumar Sangakkara, Sachithra Senanayake and Lahiru Thirimanne.
Australia: Michael Clarke (C), Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Marsh, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, Shane Watson, George Bailey, Xavier Doherty, Phillip Hughes, Clint McKay, Glenn Maxwell, Adam Voges, David Warner.
Stand-in captain George Bailey has insisted leading Australia during the Champions Trophy tournament in the UK has been a “dream come true” despite the distractions of the David Warner affair.
Regular captain Michael Clarke has been sidelined with a recurrence of his longstanding back problem. Bailey responded by top-scoring for defending champions Australia with 55 in their tournament-opening defeat by England at Edgbaston and made the same score in their no result washout with New Zealand when they returned to the Birmingham ground on Wednesday.
Michael Clarke said that the actions of David Warner and other team-mates in Birmingham had an “impact on his leadership”.pti